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More Than 16,000 Nexium, Prilosec and Other PPI Lawsuits May Be Filed When Tolling Expires Next Month

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Manufacturers of Nexium, Prilosec, Protonix and other popular proton pump inhibitors (PPI) may soon face another 16,000 lawsuits brought by individuals who claim they suffered kidney problems after using the popular drugs, after a tolling agreement expires early next year.

There are currently more than 2,500 Nexium lawsuitsPrilosec lawsuitsProtonix lawsuitsPrevacid lawsuits and other PPI lawsuits pending in the federal court system, each involving similar allegations that inadequate warnings were provided about the potential kidney risks associated with drugs used by millions of Americans.

Earlier this year, the manufacturers agreed to tolling agreement, which allowed individuals with potential claims to delay filing their complaints until January 31, 2019, to avoid litigation expenses on both sides while the claims are being reviewed. According to a process established in June 2017, potential plaintiffs were able to toll the running of the statute of limitations by providing limited information about the drugs they took, the kidney injuries suffered and other details about their claim.

According to a joint status report (PDF) submitted by the parties on December 14, there are currently at least 16,000 individuals who have submitted claims under the tolling agreement. Unless the arrangement is extended, each of those claims may be filed before the tolling expires on January 31, 2019 for cases in the federal court system, and May 31, 2019 for plaintiffs pursuing claims in state courts.

The parties are scheduled to meet this week with the U.S. District Judge presiding over the litigation, at which time the status of the tolling agreement will be discussed, as well as issues involving the selection of a small group of claims that will be prepared for early trial dates in the federal court system.

Given common questions of fact and law raised in complaints filed by individuals nationwide, the federal cases have all been centralized for pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in New Jersey, as part of an MDL (multidistrict litigation).

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, which are expected to begin in September 2020.

While the outcome of these early bellwether trials will not be binding on other Nexium and Prilosec cases pending in the litigation, they 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.

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