PPI Heartburn Drug Lawsuits To Be Selected For First Bellwether Trials Starting in November 2021

  • Written by: Irvin Jackson
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With more than 13,000 Nexium lawsuitsPrilosec lawsuits and other claims filed throughout the federal court system over side effects of the popular PPI heartburn drugs, a small group of representative bellwether cases will be selected next month for the first scheduled trials, which are expected to begin in November 2021.

Each of the claims raise similar allegations, indicating that drug makers failed to warn about the risk of kidney problems from the heartburn medications, including acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal failure.

Given common questions of fact and law raised in the complaints filed throughout the federal court system, coordinated pretrial proceedings have been established before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, where the cases are centralized as part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and serve the convenience of common witnesses, parties and the judicial system.

Earlier this year, each side was tasked with selecting 16 cases from an Eligible Case List for a total of 32 cases. Then each side will get to strike six cases for a bellwether discovery pool of 20 cases, which will go through case-specific discovery in preparation for the first trial dates.

In a joint proposed case management order (PDF) filed September 16, the parties indicate that the bellwether pool will be narrowed down to six cases by November 9, which will then go through expert discovery and be eligible to go before juries by the end of next year.

“If the parties are unable to agree on which of the bellwether trial candidates should be selected for trial, the parties shall submit simultaneous letter briefs on November 9, 2020, setting forth their respective recommendations as to which cases the Court should select,” the proposal states. “The Court shall select the bellwether trial cases by November 20, 2020.”

The first in a series of bellwether trials is currently expected to begin on November 15, 2021, with additional trials likely to follow in early 2022.

While the outcome of these early test cases will not be binding on thousands of other Nexium and Prilosec claims pending in the MDL, they will be closely watched by parties involved in the litigation, as it will gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the claims.

Nexium, Prilosec Kidney Problems

The proton pump inhibitor litigation first emerged several years ago, following the publication of studies suggesting users may face certain kidney risks not disclosed on the warning labels for popular heartburn drugs, including Nexium, Prilosec, Protonix, Prevacid and other medications.

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 this warning remains inadequate and vague, failing to mention the drugs may cause an acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease or kidney failure.

In January 2016, an independent study published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine found an increased risk of chronic kidney disease with the heartburn medications, indicating 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.

As consumers have learned about a link between their heartburn drug and kidney problems suffered in recent years, a rapidly growing number of lawsuits have been filed throughout the federal court system in recent years.

Following the series of bellwether trials, if the parties fail to reach settlements or otherwise resolve large numbers of cases, Judge Cecchi is likely to start remanding cases back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trial dates.

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1 comment

  1. Ruth Reply

    I have Type 3B CKD caused by PPIS. I have been waiting since 2015 for this MDL to be settled.
    I am now 68, will be 69 on Oct.12,2021. What are they hoping for? All of the clients to die?

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