Group of Six Nexium, Prilosec Kidney Injury Lawsuits To Be Set For Early Trials in Federal MDL

With more than 13,000 Nexium lawsuitsPrilosec lawsuits and other claims filed in federal courts nationwide against manufacturers of popular proton pump inhibitors (PPI), parties are preparing a group of six kidney injury claims for early trial dates in the federal court system.

Proton pump inhibitors are among the most widely recognized brand-name drugs on the market in the United States, including Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, Protonix, Dexilant and others.

While drug makers have promoted the medications as safe and effective treatments for heart burn, which many believe carry few serious side effects, PPI drug lawsuits have been filed in recent years by former users who have suffered a variety of serious and potentially life-threatening kidney complications, including acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease, end-stage renal failure and other complications associated with the medications.

Given common questions of fact and law raised in the cases, the federal lawsuits are currently centralized before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in New Jersey, who has been presiding over the coordination of all discovery and pretrial proceedings in an MDL, or multi-district litigation.

On August 10, Judge Cecchi issued a case management order (PDF) setting a pretrial schedule for preparation of a group of six “bellwether” cases for early trial dates, which are expected to begin early next year.

The parties have been directed to submit a brief to Special Master Ellen Reisman by September 17, outlining their respective recommendations for the order of trials among the six bellwether cases. The parties will then file any motions for summary judgment by September 23, and challenges to the admissibility of expert witness testimony by September 30.

The Court will then determine the order of the Nexium and Prilosec trials by October 15, with the first case expected to begin on January 24, 2022, or 30 days after any ruling on pretrial motions, whichever is later.

Nexium, Prilosec Kidney Risks

The proton pump inhibitor litigation first emerged several years ago, following the publication of studies suggesting users may face certain kidney problems from Nexium, Prilosec, Protonix, Prevacid and other similar heartburn medications, which was not disclosed to consumers and the medical community.

The FDA required new warnings about potential PPI kidney risks for the first time in December 2014, indicating 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 set to begin next year, 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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