A Maryland woman has filed a new Nexium lawsuit accusing AstraZeneca of concealing the drug’s serious side effects, including an alleged association with chronic kidney disease and stomach cancer.
Nexium belongs to a class of heart burn medications called proton pump inhibitors, which rank among the most commonly used drugs in the United States. In fact, more than 15 million Americans used prescription versions in 2013.
It has been estimated, however, that up to 70% of these prescriptions may be used inappropriately for indications or durations that were never tested or approved. What’s more, 25% of long-term users could discontinue proton pump inhibitor therapy without issue.
According to a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, on October 18th, Nora Gioia was prescribed Nexium to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in July 2009 and continued to use the medication through July 2013, when she was diagnosed with stomach cancer. (Case No. 2:18-cv-15082)
Gioia alleges that her cancer diagnosis was a direct and proximate result of her proton pump inhibitor use. She also claims that Nexium was the cause of her chronic kidney disease and other severe, permanent and disabling injuries.
Among other things, Gioia’s Nexium lawsuit cites recent studies that have linked long-term proton pump inhibitor use to a 20% to 50% higher risk of chronic kidney disease.
The complaint also notes that several recent studies suggested that patients who used Nexium and other proton pump inhibitors over an extended period of time were more likely to develop gastric cancer. These studies include two published this year in the medical journal GUT:
The lawsuit further contends that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has received hundreds of injury reports, including reports of stomach cancer and chronic kidney disease, in association with Nexium. To date, however, the label for Nexium does not include any information regarding stomach cancer or kidney disease, notwithstanding the growing body of evidence pointing to these risks.
“Despite their knowledge of the risks of stomach cancer and chronic kidney disease associated with their proton pump inhibitor, Nexium, Defendants took no action to inform Plaintiff or Plaintiff’s physicians of this known risk,” the complaint states. “Instead, Defendants continued to represent that Nexium did not pose any risks of stomach cancer or chronic kidney disease.”
Gioia further asserts that there were safer alternatives available to treat GERD when she was prescribed Nexium and claims she never would have used the medication had proper warnings been made available.
Gioia’s Nexium lawsuit will likely join thousands of other cases currently centralized before a single judge in the District of New Jersey. Though that multidistrict litigation was initially created to house proton pump inhibitor lawsuits involving kidney failure, chronic kidney disease, and other kidney side effects, a growing number of cases also put forth allegations of stomach cancer.
The centralized litigation currently houses nearly 2,400 proton pump inhibitor lawsuits involving prescription and over-the-counter versions of Nexium, Prilosec, and PrevAcid, as well the prescription drugs Dexilant and Protonix.