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Nexium, Prilosec Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease, Kidney Failure Highlighted in New Study

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As a growing number Nexium lawsuits, Prilosec lawsuits and claims against the manufacturers of other proton pump inhibitors (PPI) continue to be filed by individuals nationwide who have suffered severe kidney problems after using the popular heart burn drugs, new research highlights the increased risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and kidney failure linked to the medications.

In a study published this week in the medical journal Kidney International, researchers from the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, indicate that Nexium, Prilosec and other proton pump inhibitors were associated with an increased risk of kidney disease and kidney failure, even among individuals who do not experience an acute kidney injury (AKI) first.

Proton pump inhibitors are among the most widely recognized brand-name medications in the world, including blockbuster treatments like Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, Protonix, Dexilant and others. The medications are used by millions of individuals, often with little or no attempt to reduce the need for the medications, since it is often assumed they are safe. However, over the past year, serious concerns have emerged about the potential kidney risks.

In this latest study, researchers set out to determine whether incidents of chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal failure associated with the medication were linked to intervening acute kidney injury. Researchers looked at data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on 144,032 new users of heartburn drugs, including both PPIs and a competing class known as H2 blockers, which includes Zantac, Tagamet and Pepcid.

According to the findings, PPI users overall had a 26% increased risk of chronic kidney disease, and a 30% increased risk of kidney failure. When looking at those who had no history of acute kidney injury, there was little change. However, the same risks were not seen with other heartburn medications.

“In this work, we show that among new users of acid suppression therapy, incident PPI users have an increased risk of chronic renal outcomes including incident CKD, CKD progression, and [end-stage kidney failure] in the absence of intervening AKI,” the researchers determined. “Exercising vigilance in PPI use, even in the absence of AKI, and careful attention to kidney function in PPI users may be a reasonable approach.”

The findings are likely to provide further support for mounting litigation being pursued by former users of Nexium, Prilosec and other PPI drugs, alleging that the drug makers failed to adequately warn users and the medical community about the risks associated with the medications.

Nexium, Prilosec Lawsuits

According to allegations raised in complaints filed in various state and federal courts over the prior year, the drug makers knew or should have known about the kidney risks with Nexium, Prilosec and other PPI medications for years, yet marketed the drugs as safe and effective. As a result, most users remain on the medications for long periods of time, even though there may have been no real medical need any longer.

Although the medications have been on the market for more than a decade, the FDA required the PPI drug makers to add new kidney warnings for the first time in December 2014, indicating that users may face an increased risk of acute interstitial nephritis (AIN), which involves a sudden inflammation of the kidneys, which can lead to more severe problems. However, lawsuits allege that even those warnings did not go far enough to ensure that doctors and patients were aware of the risk of acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease or kidney failure.

In April 2015, a study published in the medical journal CMAJ Open indicated that users may be 3 times more likely to suffer acute interstitial nephritis, and 2.5 times more likely to develop acute kidney injury.

That research was followed by another study published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine in January 2016, which also found an increased risk of chronic kidney disease with the heartburn medications, indicating that users of Nexium, Prilosec and other PPI may be 50% more likely when compared to non-users.

In April 2016, researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs indicated that users of Nexium, Prilosec or other PPIs may be 96% more likely to develop kidney failure and 28% more likely to develop chronic kidney disease after five years of use.

As heartburn drug injury lawyers continue to review and file failure to warn cases in the coming months and years, it is ultimately expected that the drug makers may face thousands of lawsuits.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) decided not to centralize and consolidate all cases against different PPI drug manufacturers as part of single federal multidistrict litigation (MDL). As a result, cases are currently proceeding individually in U.S. District Courts nationwide.

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