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The side effects of Nexium, Prilosec and similar heartburn drugs may increase the risk of gastrointestinal cancer, heart issues and kidney problems, according to the findings of a new study that linked the popular drugs to increased rates of death among veterans due to those injuries.
In findings published last week in The BMJ, researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs in the St. Louis Health Care System highlighted the increased risk of death among users of a popular class of heartburn and acid reflux drugs, known as proton pump inhibitors (PPI).
Nexium, Prilosec and other PPI drugs are commonly used by millions of Americans, and are widely believed to be safe and carry few serious side effects. However, concerns have emerged in recent years about the gastric cancer risk from PPI drugs, and side effects have also been linked to reports of chronic kidney disease and other renal problems.
This study appears to indicate the cancer rates with Nexium, Prilosec and other PPI drugs are resulting in an uptick in mortality, along with cardiovascular disease and kidney problems among users of the medications.
The study involved data on 157,625 new users of PPIs, who went through the VA system, as well as 56,842 patients who used another class of heartburn drugs known as H2 blockers, like Zanac.
According to the findings, there were 45.2 excess deaths per 1,000 patients taking PPIs.
“Among patients without documented indication for acid suppression drugs, taking PPIs was associated with an excess mortality due to cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and upper gastrointestinal cancer,” the researchers determined. “Formal interaction analyses suggested that the risk of death due to these subcauses was not modified by a history of cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, or upper gastrointestinal cancer.”
In recent years, a growing number of Nexium lawsuits, Prilosec lawsuits, Prevacid lawsuits and similar claims have been filed against the PPI drug makers, alleging that consumers have not been adequately warned about the potential side effects. Complaints have been filed by individuals diagnosed with gastric cancer, acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease and other injuries.
Given similar questions of fact and law raised in more than 12,300 lawsuits pending in the federal court system, the cases have been centralized as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in New Jersey, for coordinating the discovery and pretrial proceedings.
Judge Cecchi has established a “bellwether” program where a group of representative cases filed over kidney side effects will be prepared for early trial dates, which are expected to begin in late 2020. It is expected that the Court will eventually establish a separate bellwether track for gastric cancer lawsuits filed by former users of the heartburn drugs.