In recent years, many lawsuits have been filed against the makers of special drugs known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). These popular drugs that people use to combat digestive problems like heartburn have been the center of individual and class action lawsuits. Drugs involved in many of these legal actions include Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec. At issue are various side effects that are not disclosed in warning labels or drug literature. Some side effects are minor, while more serious ones have resulted in deaths.
Drug Side Effects
Side effects are unwanted or unexpected reactions that cause suffering to people taking a drug. These adverse events can be minor, like a runny nose or cough, or they can be life-threatening, like a heart attack. Whenever someone takes a drug of any kind, it is important to learn about potential side effects that have been documented by studies of use by other consumers.
Most drugs carry printed warnings about side effects, but problems frequently occur when that warning is inadequate or lacking complete information. This may happen if a manufacturer tries to reduce any negativity connected with a particular drug. In legal terms, deliberately marketing products without providing necessary information about side effects can endanger the user and is considered to be negligence.
Adverse Effects of Proton Pump Inhibitors
Since their introduction to the marketplace in 1989, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) have soared in popularity. This first PPI was developed and marketed by a global pharmaceutical business, AstraZeneca. After some initial problems involving the name of one of their first products, marketing efforts boosted sales of these drugs. Over-the-counter (OTC) versions also were made available, but pricing became an issue as the company tried to influence consumers to buy the most expensive brands, even though their cheaper drugs were virtually identical.
Proton pump inhibitors work inside the digestive track by reducing the amount of gastric acid that is released into the stomach for food digestion. The body normally produces this acid, but when it overproduces the acid, serious injury may occur, including heartburn, and ulcers. Many of these drugs are promoted as a product that relieves GERD, gastroesphageal reflux disease. They also are widely used to remedy heartburn. One problem with this use is that PPIs are not designed as a quick fix; they need to be taken for a longer period of time. Unfortunately for users, taking proton pump inhibitors for a long term may increase the occurrence of adverse side effects.
Proton Pump Inhibitors – Hidden Risks
In addition to commonly known and indicated side effects of proton pump inhibitors, it is important to understand that there are other, more complex or rare serious side effects people may experience from long term use of these drugs. Whenever a person uses any type of drug, they should take time first to investigate all the details that are known about that drug, especially potential side effects that could cause harm or even death.
The way PPIs function also can create internal problems for the user. By reducing acid, these drugs lessen the ability of the body to utilize some important elements, such as calcium and magnesium. A deficiently in these elements can lead to serious physical issues, including increased risk of having bone fractures of the hip, wrist and spine. Other adverse effects of proton pump inhibitors include pneumonia, rebound acid hypersecretion, gastric carcinoid tumor, cardiovascular risk and other medical problems. These drugs also interact with other prescription drugs, so it is essential that persons taking proton pump inhibitors first consult with their physician about this matter.
The incidence of serious side effect damage rises as the drug is taken over a long period of time. These drugs are not meant to provide instant relief of heartburn; they are supposed to help with frequent heartburn when they are taken over at least a 14 day period. Older persons are more susceptible to the serious side effects that involve the bones and heart.
Lawsuits – Proton Pump Inhibitors
Many lawsuits have been filed for cases involving personal injury due to adverse side effects of proton pump inhibitors. Many people have filed individual lawsuits and many others have joined together in class action lawsuits. Multi-million dollar awards have been won in class action lawsuits across the country.
- Damage Claims – The worst adverse side effect damages from PPI drugs occur when they are used for one year or more, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Bone fracture is most likely to occur with high dosage long term use, not short term or low dosage intake. Damage claims include fair compensation for medical expenses, aftercare, income loss and other losses that are related to side effect injuries. When a death occurs, survivors may be able to pursue claims to recover costs of care, funeral and burial costs, and other claims.
- Negligence – The primary area of negligence claimed in these lawsuits is that the manufacturer deliberately did not warn consumers of known side effect hazards that were severe or life-threatening. The company also manipulated their marketing and pricing to generate higher profits than would otherwise have occurred if they had disclosed adverse side effect issues.
- Fair Compensation – Obtaining fair compensation is a primary goal of personal injury lawsuits. In the case of PPI side effects, consumers may have suffered needlessly due to manufacturer negligence. In addition to their original medical issues, the side effects may have increased their physical problems. Getting adequate care for medical problems can be devastatingly expensive, as is income loss that occurs when someone is unable to work temporarily or permanently due to medical issues. Compensation for personal pain and suffering is another area that may be included in some personal injury lawsuits. Finally, collecting judgment awards is not always simple; some people need additional legal representation to obtain the awards they were granted.
Legal Options for Fair Compensation
There are several options within the legal system that can help people gain fair compensation for person injuries due to adverse side effects of proton pump inhibitors. Large groups of people with the same compliant can join together in a class action lawsuit. This has resulted in very large settlement awards in some cases. AstraZeneca had to pay $20 million in one case recently. Settlements are sometimes offered as a way to reduce costs to the defendant and costs for plaintiffs. Agreements can be made at any time, but if no settlement is reached, the issue continues into the court system.
Personal Injury Attorney
When you are harmed and want to pursue justice in the legal system, start by finding a personal injury attorney who has handled similar cases. This can help reduce legal costs and save time, and they will be ready to advise you immediately about the prospects of your potential lawsuit. They also can tell you if you are eligible to join any open class action lawsuits for your complaint.