Nexium sales could be adversely affected by a growing number of lawsuits involving the drug’s alleged kidney side effects. The litigation, coupled with mounting concerns about the safety of proton pump inhibitors in general, could ultimately cause doctors to reconsider the circumstances under which they prescribe the medications.
According to an article posted at GuruFocus.com, Nexium is currently one of AstraZeneca Plc’s most popular medications. In 2015, it generated more than 10% of the company’s revenue. Even though the drug lost patent protection last year, Nexium is still seen as one of AstraZeneca’s main revenue drivers.
This really isn’t surprising, as Nexium and other proton pump inhibitors are extremely popular. In 2013, more than 15 million Americans were prescribed one of these medications. However, it has been estimated that between 25% and 70% of these prescriptions are inappropriate, raising concerns that proton pump inhibitors are overused.
In recent years, a number of studies have been published linking the use of proton pump inhibitors like Nexium to an increased risk of kidney failure, chronic kidney disease, acute interstitial nephritis and acute kidney injury. Other research has suggested that the long-term use of these drugs might increase a patient’s risk for dementia and heart attacks.
Last month, plaintiffs pursuing Nexium lawsuits and other proton pump inhibitor cases over alleged kidney injuries petitioned the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to centralize all such federal claims in a single U.S. District Court for the purposes of coordinated pretrial proceedings. The motion indicated that 15 proton pump inhibitor lawsuits of this nature were already pending in federal courts around the country, and asserted that hundreds of similar claims could be filed in the near future.
According to GuruFocus.com, the Nexium litigation isn’t large enough to impact AstraZeneca’s bottom line just yet. However, that will likely change if, as plaintiffs predict, the litigation does grow significantly larger.
“While the Nexium lawsuit may continue to fly under the radar for some time, AstraZeneca could experience the impact down the road as more patients consider their usage of PPI-based products,” the report states.
“With studies highlighting the potential hazards associated with unwarranted and continuous usage of proton-pump inhibitors, it might not be long before Nexium sales start experiencing the impact of the lawsuits.”