Prilosec and Nexium Lawsuits

Prilosec and Nexium lawsuits claim the drugs cause serious side effects like stroke, heart attack, dementia and kidney problems. AstraZeneca has settled a Prilosec and Nexium class action lawsuit for $20 million, but there are still more than 13,000 proton-pump inhibitor lawsuits pending in federal court.

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Why People are Filing Nexium and Prilosec Lawsuits

Prilosec, also known by its generic name omeprazole, is a proton-pump inhibitor developed by manufacturer AstraZeneca to block excess stomach acid from flowing into the esophagus and causing painful heartburn. The delayed-release drug with active ingredient omeprazole was the first of its kind approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1989 for prescription use, and it also became the first in its class to be approved for over-the-counter sale in 2003, under the name Prilosec OTC.

Nexium, a second-generation heartburn drug from the same manufacturer, was FDA approved and introduced to the market in 2001. Instead of using omeprazole, AstraZeneca used esomeprazole, which is very closely related chemically. Reports have shown the manufacturer likely developed the drug to stay in the billion-dollar heartburn medication industry and maintain profits, as their patent for Prilosec ran out in 2002.

Conditions Treated by Prilosec and Nexium

  • Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Duodenal ulcers
  • Erosive esophagitis
  • Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (long-term treatment)

While originally only available by prescription, AstraZeneca changed the Prilosec formulation to use omeprazole magnesium for Prilosec OTC to treat frequent heartburn. The tablets are meant to be taken over the course of 14 days to gradually improve heartburn, which can be repeated every four months. The over-the-counter version of Nexium, known as Nexium 24HR, wasn’t available until 2014. Similarly, AstraZeneca changed the formulation to esomeprazole magnesium, and now the drug can also be used with the same treatment course as Prilosec OTC.

AstraZeneca initially warned consumers of some potential side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, headache, dizziness or allergic reactions. However, as the drug grew in popularity researchers realized the risks were far more serious than they originally seemed.

Nexium and Prilosec Dangers

Millions of people rely on Prilosec and Nexium to treat frequent heartburn and other conditions each year. But in the last several years especially, many studies have been published around the serious side effects of Prilosec, Nexium and their main ingredients.

Several studies came out around 2010, indicating an increased risk for bone fractures in the hip, wrist and spine when used over a longer period of time. Researchers were split on the evidence, and the FDA ultimately determined a year later that those who use only a low dose of the drug over one year or less are not at risk and an additional safety warning did not need to be added at the time. But in recent years, additional dangerous Prilosec and Nexium side effects have come to light.

Dangerous Side Effects of Nexium and Prilosec

  • Short-term kidney problems
  • Acute kidney injury
  • Acute interstitial nephritis (AIN)
  • Low magnesium levels
  • Stroke
  • Heart Attack
  • Dementia

A 2016 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine observed nearly 11,000 participants taking Prilosec and other proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). They found use of proton pump inhibitors carried a 20 – 50% higher risk of chronic kidney disease compared to nonusers. Chronic kidney disease can progress over time, severely decreasing kidney function and potentially leading to kidney failure (renal failure) and the need for a kidney transplant.

Other studies have seen additional serious health effects. One recent study determined that the use of Prilosec and Nexium could lead to an increased risk of gastric cancer. Researchers found the risk more than doubled for patients who had previous infections in the stomach. Other studies have also determined the overall risk for stroke increases by 21% and the risk for a heart attack also increases to upwards of 21% for users of this medication, especially with long-term use. Omeprazole has even been attributed to more than doubling seniors’ risk of developing dementia with regular use.

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AstraZeneca’s Liability

As with many similar lawsuits against drugmakers, plaintiffs allege manufacturer AstraZeneca did not properly test the drugs for side effects and didn’t appropriately warn doctors and consumers of the potential health risks. Though the FDA released new warnings over the years in correlation with many of the studies mentioned above, AstraZeneca continued to market both drugs heavily, even to the point where there was an apparent shortage of Prilosec OTC in the early 2000s.

Since Prilosec was one of the company’s best selling drugs and accounted for billions of dollars of revenue each year, AstraZeneca continued to falsely advertise the effectiveness and safety of the drug. When they lost patent protection in 2002, the company furthered their deception by working to turn consumers of Prilosec to their next generation drug, Nexium. The company directly marketed to consumers, claiming Nexium, which leads to the same severe side effects as Prilosec, was safer and more effective than Prilosec, but they also allegedly bribed health company Medco into advertising and discounting the newer drug to boost sales.

As a result, AstraZeneca was required to pay the United States Department of Justice $7.9 million for their Prilosec and Nexium kickback scheme.

AstraZeneca Class Action Lawsuit

In 2015, AstraZeneca settled a class action lawsuit that involved both of their popular heartburn medications, Prilosec and Nexium. Along the same lines as their kickback scheme with Medco, consumers claimed that the drug company was trying to boost sales of Nexium as their patent for Prilosec ran out. Chemically, the drugs are nearly identical, but Nexium was much more expensive.

The class action lawsuit claimed AstraZeneca created a deceptive marketing campaign in an attempt to make the drugs “evergreen” and manipulate their own bottom line. The case ended with a Prilosec lawsuit settlement of $20 million paid out to the plaintiffs. Meanwhile, thousands of additional lawsuits have been filed against the company and other drug manufacturers in state and federal court over the severe side effects of these medications.

Prilosec and Nexium Lawsuits

There were several attempts to transfer these proton-pump inhibitor lawsuits to a singular multidistrict litigation, which allows for a special federal process to streamline and speed up the handling of these cases. Initially, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation denied the motion to combine 39 federal lawsuits against various PPI manufacturers into a single MDL in February 2017. As the number of cases grew, however, the panel later reconsidered and officially formed MDL 2789 in August 2017.

The Proton-Pump MDL 2789 lawsuits are being overseen by Judge Claire Cecchi and Judge Mark Falk in the United States District Court of New Jersey. When the MDL initially formed, 161 cases were transferred. As of July 2019, there are more than 13,000 lawsuits pending, and although the first of the bellwether trials won’t happen until 2020, more lawsuits are still being filed.

Prilosec and Nexium Lawsuit FAQ’s

Am I Eligible to File a Prilosec or Nexium Lawsuit?

If you or a loved one have taken Prilosec, Prilosec OTC, Nexium or Nexium 24HR and suffered kidney damage or other serious side effects, you may be eligible to file a claim.

What Compensation Can I Receive for a Nexium or Prilosec Lawsuit?

Compensation in similar prescription drug lawsuits generally looks at the legal damages incurred because of the drug. These often include additional medical expenses, loss of income, and pain and suffering. Each case is unique and therefore the compensation awarded may vary slightly in cases tried individually or within and MDL.

How Can I Pay for a Prilosec or Nexium Lawyer?

If you file a claim with a contingency agreement, you won’t be required to pay any expenses up front and will only be asked to pay if your case is successful.

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