The federal litigation housing hundreds of lawsuits filed against the manufactures of Nexium and other proton pump inhibitors has passed an important milestone, as defendants have each filed a Master Answer responding to allegations that their products caused plaintiffs to develop kidney failure and other serious renal complications.
Roughly 856 proton pump inhibitor lawsuits are pending in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, where all federally-filed claims involving the drugs’ alleged kidney side effects have been centralized before a single judge for the purposes of coordinated pretrial proceedings.
Plaintiffs filed their Master Complaint with the court earlier this year, setting forth all of the allegations – including strict liability, failure to warn, negligence and breach of warranty, among others – put forth in their cases. Upon initiating an individual case, each plaintiff may file a Short Form Complaint that adopts only the specific allegations pertinent to their lawsuit.
Master Answers filed this week by AstraZeneca, Procter and Gamble, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis deny all allegations contained in the Master Complaint.
Proton pump inhibitors like Nexium are popular options for treating GERD and other digestive problems associated with the excess production of stomach acid. In fact, prescription versions of these medications were used by more than 15 million Americans in 2013 alone.
By some estimates, between 25% and 70% of proton pump inhibitor prescriptions are written for inappropriate indications, raising concerns that the drugs are overused. A growing body of research has also suggested that long-term treatment with proton pump inhibitors may harm the kidneys, including:
While the labels for Nexium and other prescription proton pump inhibitors were updated in late 2014 to note acute interstitial nephritis as a possible side effect, the drugs’ prescribing information does not include mention of any other potential kidney complications.
Plaintiffs with cases pending in the federal proton pump inhibitor litigation claim that the drugs’ manufacturers were aware for years that their products could harm the kidneys but failed to notify patients and doctors of these risks. They further charge that their injures could have been prevented with proper warnings.