A popular class of drugs prescribed for the treatment of chronic heartburn -- most commonly sold under the brand name Nexium -- is under fire for its association with several serious side effects, including kidney disease, kidney failure, and dementia. While less-severe side effects such as diarrhea and increased risk of bone fractures are prominently listed on the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) medication guide for Nexium, lawsuits allege that drugmaker AstraZeneca failed to warn physicians and users about the drug's more serious risks. In addition to Nexium, other brand names in the class of drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that also have been blamed for these injuries include Prilosec and Prevacid.
If you have been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, kidney failure, or dementia and have been taking either of these drugs regularly, you may want to file a claim to possibly recover for your losses. The following is a summary of PPIs, their alleged health risks, claims against the drugmakers, and your legal options.
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) at a Glance
The class of drugs collectively referred to as PPIs work by reducing the amount of acid produced by the glands in the stomach lining, thus relieving the symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn. Technically, these uncomfortable and often-painful conditions are referred to as gastroesophageal reflux (GER) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is similar to GER, but considered more serious and longer-lasting.
PPIs are available in either tablet or capsule form, and are meant to be taken in short intervals, usually no more than 14 days at a time. While drugmaker Procter & Gamble Co. sells Prilosec over the counter, Prevacid (Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc.) and Nexium require prescriptions.
PPIs: Chronic Kidney Disease and Other Serious Health Concerns
The most commonly cited medical study linking PPIs to chronic kidney disease (CKD) was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in February 2016. The report, entitled "Proton Pump Inhibitor Use and the Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease ," analyzed data from 10,482 participants over a 15-year period, concluding that patients taking Nexium had a 20 to 50 percent higher chance of developing CKD than those given alternative treatments.
One of the concerns about CDK is that it typically gets worse over a period of months or even years, often without noticeable symptoms until the point of kidney failure. At this point, called end-stage renal disease (ESRD), patients typically require dialysis or a transplant in order to survive.
Another study also published by JAMA in February 2016, entitled "Association of Proton Pump Inhibitors With Risk of Dementia," linked the long-term use of PPIs by seniors 75 and older to a 44 percent increased risk of dementia (when compared to those taking a placebo). However, the author of the study said more research is needed to make a definitive cause-and-effect conclusion.
Prevacid, Prilosec, and Nexium: Lawsuits and Claims
If you have been injured by a drug, one of your options is to file a lawsuit against the drugmaker. Pharmaceutical companies often are held liable for failing to warn consumers about known risks (or risks they should have known); negligence in the way the drug is tested and/or promoted; negligence in how the company responds to reports of serious side effects; and other claims. In some cases, the physician may be held liable for malpractice for improperly prescribing the drug.
AstraZeneca, which originally sold Prilosec along with Nexium, has been sued by several plaintiffs who claim that the company failed to provide necessary warnings about Nexium's kidney disease risks. One plaintiff, Charles Bowers, took the drug for roughly five years and developed a condition that led to kidney disease and eventually end-stage renal failure. In his July 5, 2016 complaint, Bowers claims AstraZeneca was negligent in "the design, development, manufacture, testing, packaging, promoting, marketing, distribution, labeling, and/or sale of the proton pump inhibiting drug known as Nexium."
The plaintiff claims he must undergo kidney dialysis treatments three times per week and has been told he needs a kidney transplant. In addition to the costs related to the need for lifelong treatment, Bowers claims his condition has caused him mental anguish and emotional distress. His suit is seeking compensatory and actual damages of more than $75,000, according to the complaint, as well as punitive damages for allegedly marketing a dangerous drug to millions of U.S. users.
Other lawsuits against the pharmaceutical make similar claims.
Filing a Nexium Lawsuit? Get Free a Legal Claim Review
If you have been taking Prevacid, Prilosec, or Nexium on a regular basis and have developed kidney-related health issues, dementia, or any other serious side effect, first make sure you're getting the medical care you need. You also may be able to recover for the injuries you have suffered, including ongoing medical costs and the general suffering that accompanies these types of health problems. Have an injury lawyer familiar with these cases review your claim at absolutely no charge.
Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.