Since they were first introduced to the marketplace in 1989, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) have soared in popularity as people used them primarily to fight heartburn and other digestive problems related to overproduction of gastric acid. Unfortunately, for some people, PPIs used over a long term have added to their medical problems because of hidden side effects.
Drug manufacturers are supposed to disclose all information they have about side effects, so users can be cautious in using those drugs. In the case of several very popular proton pump inhibitors, the manufacturer, AstraZeneca, did not include serious side effects in their warning information on their packaging or marketing materials. It was discovered later on that the company had deliberately avoided warning consumers of potential adverse side effects, and this issue came into focus in courts across the country when many personal injury lawsuits were filed against AstraZeneca.
Proton Pump Inhibitors and Kidney Failure
One of the worst adverse side effects that may occur from long term use of proton pump inhibitors is kidney disease and kidney failure. The drug is designed to reduce the production of gastric acid by the body’s natural proton pump. Gastric acid is necessary for digesting food, but when too much is released, it can cause problems like heartburn, ulcers and other harm within the digestive track.
Popular drugs within the class of proton pump inhibitors include Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid. There have been lawsuits about each of these drugs, with claims that using them caused harm to consumers due to negligent behavior by the manufacturer. Studies have shown a relationship between PPIs and later development of kidney disease, but those studies were not designed to reveal a cause-and-effect relationship.
Prior studies did indicate a causal relationship between lesser kidney problems like acute kidney injury and acute interstitial nephritis. Most likely, this damage occurs because PPIs can lower levels of magnesium that is essential for kidney function. Studies conducted between 2001 and 2008 involved 24,000 patients, a quarter of whom had used PPIs previously and then developed chronic kidney disease. Patients also were twice as likely to die prematurely, according to researchers.
In 2016, newer studies did show a relationship between use of PPIs and development of kidney disease and failure. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that use of PPIs over a year or longer could lead to nutrient deficiencies that could harm the kidneys or cause bone density loss that could lead to bone fractures.
Lawsuits – PPIs & Kidney Failure
People who suffer kidney damage or failure endure enormous physical and financial damage. When this problem is related to a drug the person took to resolve a minor physical discomfort like heartburn, it is devastating. Those injured persons are harmed by a drug they might have avoided taking, if only proper warnings had been issued by the drug manufacturer. When injury occurred due to negligent behavior attributed to the drug manufacturer as they omitted essential information about side effects, injured users have turned to the legal system to find justice.
- Damage Claims – When people develop kidney disease or experience kidney failure, medical costs are enormous. Insurance coverage does not pay for all medical care costs. Patients still would have to pay a significant part of treatment costs. Average costs for dialysis is $30,000 a year, and kidney transplant treatment runs about $262,900. Most insurance coverage pays only 80 percent of those costs. Damage claims include costs for medical care, aftercare, income loss, personal claims and, if the patient dies, survivor claims.
- Negligence – This is the basic claim for personal injury lawsuits. Negligent behavior that results in harm to another person makes that person or company liable for paying costs of all injury claims related to the injury incident. When a drug company fails to provide proper warnings to consumers about adverse side effects and risks that may come from taking a drug, it is negligent behavior. It may also be deliberate, as was the claim in many PPI lawsuits. The company also was shown to have acted unfairly with pricing schemes and marketing efforts that influenced medical professionals to recommend and users to buy a more expensive brand when an identical one was cheaper.
- Fair Compensation – Determining fair compensation for personal injury damage claims is in the hands of the court system, unless the parties reach a settlement out-of-court. Injured parties present all expenses that are related to the injury event. This may include medical care, rehabilitation, work loss, personal pain and suffering, survivor costs for funeral or burial services and other claims. When the case involves kidney failure, compensation amounts can be very high.
Class Action Lawsuits & Settlements
There have been numerous class action lawsuits, individual lawsuits, and settlements made for claims of damage from proton pump inhibitors. People who have suffered kidney damage or failure after they took PPIs have filed lawsuits against drug manufacturers, including AstraZeneca, a major producer of this type of drug.
Several class action and government lawsuits have achieved very large awards: Nexium: $20 million, Prilosec: $20 million, Protonix: $55 million. Individuals also have filed lawsuits against drug manufacturers after they experienced physical harm from use of PPIs that did not have proper warnings about potential adverse side effects.
Personal Injury Attorney
A personal injury attorney represents people who have been harmed, or survivors of those who died, because another person or company was negligent and that behavior led to an accident or personal injury. If you or a loved one has used proton pump inhibitors and then developed kidney disease or failure, contact an experienced PPI lawsuit personal injury attorney to protect your rights and determine what legal action you may take to obtain fair compensation for those injuries.
It is important to act now, because there may be time limits that apply to your situation. Your personal injury attorney can advise you about filing an individual lawsuit or if you are eligible to join a class action lawsuit.