Examples of Heartburn Drug Lawsuits

Michael Bennett
March 20, 2017 - 26 Views

Popular medications for treatment of heartburn and other digestive disorders are among the most prescribed drugs available. Despite their widespread use and popularity, the number of heartburn drug lawsuits continues to grow. The core problem with these proton pump inhibitor (PPI) drugs is that they may have adverse side effects that develop after long term use and that the drug manufacturers did not warn consumers about most of those side effects.

Heartburn Drugs

The class of drugs known as proton pump inhibitors was developed first by a worldwide biopharmaceutical business, AstraZeneca. They make several of the most popular drugs used for relief of heartburn: Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid. It is estimated that over 20 million American use this type of drug annually.

These heartburn drugs act to reduce the amount of gastric acid produced naturally in the body by an internal enzyme. The body’s own proton pump releases acid to help with food digestion. When there is an excessive amount of acid released into the stomach and digestive system, several ailments may develop. Too much acid can cause ulcers, heartburn and esophageal reflux disease. These are painful aliments and people suffering from those problems have frequently turned to PPIs for relief.

The drugs do carry warnings about some minor side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cough and abdominal pain. They do not warn against potentially life-threatening side effects like kidney disease, renal failure, bone fractures or development of dementia. Many users are older, have diabetes or are obese, which puts them already at higher risk for developing some of these medical problems.

Heartburn Drug Lawsuits

The primary legal issue in heartburn drug lawsuits is that the consumers were harmed because no warnings were disclosed about serious side effects the manufacturer knew existed. The drugs are available by prescription and also over-the-counter (OTC). Many people are not consulting with their doctor when taking heartburn drugs, so they would not be aware of any other side effects or drug interactions that could pose a threat to them.

Several studies have been done to see if there is a link between these heartburn drugs and subsequent physical harm to consumers. Some controlled studies did show an association between use of PPIs and development of kidney disease, bone fractures and dementia. Other studies have indicated a possible side effect could harm babies and cause asthma if the pregnant mother used these drugs. These studies have involved hundreds of thousands of people in many countries.

Recent studies linking PPI drug use to kidney disease have been the center of several lawsuits. The kidneys are an essential human body organ that filters and purifies blood. It also transfers elements like vitamins and minerals through the blood stream to other organs and parts of the body. It is shown that PPI drugs used long term reduce amounts of calcium and magnesium to the kidneys, which can result in kidney damage, and renal failure. If this happens, the patient either must undergo expensive treatments for dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive. The expenses involve with these procedures are extremely costly. Dialysis may place a $50,000 annual cost upon the patient that is not covered by insurance. Organ replacement is even more expensive; insurance or government payments only cover about 80% of treatment costs.

Examples of Heartburn Drug Lawsuits

To address this problem, there have been many individual and class action lawsuits filed against the makers of heartburn drugs. AstraZeneca is the producer of three of the most popular brands of heartburn medications, Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium. They have been the target of many heartburn drug lawsuits, and they have settled with some extremely large payments to plaintiffs.

Here are a few examples of heartburn drug lawsuits:

  • 2016 – After kidney failure, the plaintiff required a transplant. His claim was that use of AstraZeneca’s proton pump inhibitor drug led to the kidney problems, and that the company deliberately withheld important information about possible kidney side effects.
  • 2015 – Lawsuit claims AstraZeneca promoted their more expensive drug Nexium over an almost identical drug, Prilosec. This claim took ten years to settle, ending with a $20 million settlement.
  • 2015 – AstraZeneca paid $7.9 million settlement about their fault in an alleged kickback conspiracy involving Nexium.
  • 2015 – Teva Pharmaceuticals paid a $24 million settlement for keeping generic versions of Nexium off the market; a pay-for-delay scheme.
  • Recently, claims were made that the OTC version of Prilosec increased chances of contracting food poisoning, and that warnings about that side effect were not disclosed.
  • Prilosec – class action lawsuit claims that AstraZeneca did not warn consumers about side effects of bone fractures and low magnesium levels.

Lawsuits – Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid

Many people have been harmed by their use of popular heartburn medications. The issue is that the drug maker did not adequately provide information to consumers about serious adverse side effects that taking these drugs could cause. The manufacturer knew about the hidden risks, but deliberately adjusted their warning labels and marketing efforts to hide that information and to keep sales and profits high.

As a result of this negligent behavior that caused personal injury to many PPI drug users, a large number of class action lawsuits and individual lawsuits have been filed against the drug manufacturers. One large worldwide business, AstraZeneca, has already paid out millions of dollars in damages to plaintiffs.

  • Damage Claims – Medical care costs can be disastrous, so this is one of the greatest claims in these lawsuits. Costs for medical treatment and follow-up care, home or nursing home care, income loss and other claims also are included in the lawsuits. Personal damage claims like pain and suffering, lost lifestyle, and survivor claims for funeral and burial costs are also commonly included in class action and individual heartburn drug lawsuits.
  • Negligence – Careless and negligent behavior, like deliberately not letting users know information about side effects that could even cause death is a major claim in these lawsuits.
  • Fair Compensation – Judgments and awards provide fair compensation to victims for monetary value of claims in personal injury lawsuits. In some of the completed class action lawsuits, awards were as high as $55 million.

Personal Injury Attorney

A personal injury attorney who has handled similar cases is an excellent professional to consult for advice or representation if you or a loved one suffered side effects from taking heartburn drugs. They will help you determine the best course of legal action for your case. If there is a class action lawsuit open that you are eligible to join, they can assist you with that also. Act immediately, because there may be time limits for filing your case.

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Michael Bennett

About Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett is Editor-in-Chief of Consumer Protect.com. Since 1999, he's worked across a multitude of areas of consumer protection including defective products, environmental issues, identity theft, predatory lending and more. If you find his articles helpful please share them with your readers.