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The U.S. District Judge presiding over thousands of Nexium lawsuits, Prilosec lawsuits, Protonix lawsuits, Prevacid lawsuits and other claims involving kidney injuries associated with the use of proton pump inhibitors, has established a bellwether trial schedule that calls for the first case to go before a jury in September 2020.
There are currently more than 4,600 product liability lawsuits pending in the federal court system filed over kidney injuries linked to the popular heartburn drugs, each raising similar allegations that users and the medical community were not adequately warned that the widely used drugs may result in the development of kidney disease, kidney injury, kidney failure or other serious complications.
The federal cases are all consolidated for pretrial proceedings as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, before District Judge Claire C. Cecchi.
To help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation, Judge Cecchi has established a “bellwether” process, where a small group of representative cases will be prepared for early trial dates.
In a case management order (PDF) issued on July 27, the parties were ordered to present a plan for the selection of these bellwether cases by December 3, 2018.
This initial batch of cases will selected by February 28, 2019, after which additional core discovery will be completed by June 28, 2019, according to the orer.
After the cases are narrowed down to a pool of trial claims, the order indicates that the first bellwether trial is expected to begin on September 21, 2020, with additional cases to follow as needed.
While the outcome of any bellwether cases will not be binding on claims filed by other users of Nexium, Prilosec or similar PPI drugs, the early trial dates will be closely watched, and may have a big influence on eventual settlement negotiations that would be necessary to avoid the need for thousands of individual trials nationwide.
Kidney Risks with Nexium, Prilosec and Other PPI Drugs
The proton pump inhibitor litigation has rapidly emerged following the publication of several studies in recent years, which suggest that users may face certain kidney risks that are not disclosed on the warning labels for the popular heartburn drugs.
The FDA required new warnings about potential kidney risks for the first time in December 2014, indicating that use of the drugs may increase the risk of a form of kidney damage known as acute interstitial nephritis (AIN), which involves a sudden inflammation of the kidneys, which can lead to more severe problems. However, plaintiffs maintain that this warning remains inadequate and vague, failing to mention that the drugs may cause an acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease or kidney failure.
In January 2016, an indepedent study published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine 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.
These findings were followed by another study published in April 2016, in which researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs found 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.
In addition to lawsuits over kidney problems, a number of individuals are also investigating potential stomach cancer lawsuits over Nexium, Prilosec and other PPI drugs, which would not be eligible for tolling under this recent stipulation.
Given the widespread use of the litigation, it is widely expected that more than 10,000 claims may eventually be filed on behalf of individuals nationwide.