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AstraZenca’s decision to withhold information about the kidney risks associated with side effects of Nexium caused acute renal failure for an Alabama man, according to allegations raised in a product liability lawsuit filed this week.
The complaint (PDF) was filed by Thomas Bridges in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, where hundreds of similar cases will be consolidated involving kidney problems caused by Nexium, Prilosec and other proton pump inhibitors (PPI).
Bridges indicates that he began taking Nexium in 2010, after it was prescribed by his doctor. He continued to use the heartburn medication through 2014, according to the complaint. He later suffered acute renal failure. which he directly links to his use of Nexium.
The lawsuit indicates that Bridges never would have taken the drug and would have selected a safer alternative had AstraZeneca not hidden the kidney risks from consumers and the medical community.
“In omitting, concealing, and inadequately providing critical safety information regarding the use of Nexium to Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s healthcare providers, Defendants engaged in, and continue to engage in, conduct likely to mislead consumers, including Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s healthcare providers,” Bridges’ lawsuit states. “This conduct is fraudulent, unfair and unlawful.”
Nexium (esomeprazole) is one of the most recognized brand-name medications on the market in the United States, prescribed to millions of Americans for treatment of heartburn and acid reflux. It is part of a larger class of medications, known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which also includes the blockbuster treatments Prilosec, Protonix, Prevacid, Dexilant and others.
Since AstraZeneca has promoted their medication as safe and effective, and it is widely assumed to carry few serious side effects, many individuals remain on Nexium long-term, using the drug for years without any attempt to reduce reliance on the medication. However, following the publication of several studies in recent years, serious concerns have emerged about risks that users may be more likely to experience severe and potentially life-threatening kidney problems.
In an independent study published by the medical journal CMAJ Open in April 2015, researchers found that users of PPI medications were 3 times more likely to suffer acute interstitial nephritis, which involves inflammation of the kidney. In addition, the study found that users were 2.5 times more likely to develop acute kidney injury, which involves an abrupt loss of kidney function.
This research was followed by a study published last year in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, 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 found that users of Nexium, Prilosec or other PPIs may be 96% more likely to develop renal failure and 28% more likely to develop chronic kidney disease after five years of use.
The case joins a growing number of other Nexium lawsuits, Prilosec lawsuits, Protonix lawsuits, Prevacid lawsuits and Dexilant lawsuits brought by individuals nationwide in recent months, each raising similar allegations that the drug makers withheld information about the risks associated with long-term use of the medications.
Given common questions of fact and law raised in the cases brought throughout the federal court system, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) issued an order earlier this month, consolidating all heartburn kidney lawsuits before one judge in New Jersey federal court for pretrial proceedings.
As heartburn drug injury lawyers continue to review and file cases in the coming months and years, it is expected that hundreds, if not thousands, of similar acute interstitial nephritis lawsuits may be filed over the failure to warn about the side effects of Nexium, Prilosec and other PPI medications.