Proton pump inhibitor lawsuits are on the rise. Plaintiffs in more than 5,000 cases from 12 different federal district courts around the country filed a motion for transfer and consolidation with the U.S. Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). If the motion passes, all active lawsuits would be transfered to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, according to the Louisiana Record.
Plaintiffs Raise Serious Allegations Connected to Proton Pump Inhibitors
Millions of Americans take proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec, Prevacid, or Nexium for the occasional bout of acid reflux and heartburn. Common short-term side effects of proton pump inhibitors may include: headaches, skin rashes, dizziness, diarrhea, constipation, or anxiety. To avoid these unpleasant side effects, doctors urge patients to avoid taking PPIs for intermittent symptoms.
Instead, patients with heartburn and acid reflux can make lifestyle changes – avoiding acidic food and beverages like white wine, tomatoes, garlic, onion, chocolate, citrus, and peppermint. They can lose 5 percent of their weight, avoid large meals within three hours of sleeping, and raise the head up six inches when reclining. They can take TUMS here and there, or H2 Receptor Blockers like Zantac and Pepcid if they experience acid reflux two or more times per week.
The problem is: the effectiveness of these solutions decreases over time, and they work less well compared to PPIs. Surgery is another option for people on prolonged, high doses of PPI medication.
More serious side effects listed in proton pump inhibitor lawsuits include:
- Kidney injuries (including chronic kidney disease, acute interstitial nephritis and kidney failure)
- Heart attacks
- Bone fractures
- Magnesium deficiency
- Drug-resistant infections
- Esophageal cancer
These allegations have been backed by a wealth of research, illuminating the risks of taking these products, particularly over the long term.
- The risk of dementia is 1.4-fold greater among regular PPI users, according to German researchers.
- People who used PPIs for over a year were 30 percent more likely to break their wrist, hips, spine or forearms, say University of Maryland scientists.
- The risk of esophageal cancer was 61 percent higher among regular PPI users, according to 2011 research conducted by Dr. Blair Jobe of the Esophageal and Lung Institute.
- People using PPIs once or twice a day are 20-50 percent more likely to have kidney disease, according to John Hopkins University research.
- Long-term PPI users were 3 times as likely to develop nephritis and 5 times as likely to develop an acute kidney injury, said scientists writing in the medical journal CMAJ Open in April 2015.
Since 2011, research-based advocacy group Public Citizen had petitioned the FDA to mandate that all PPI drugs contain a black box warning regarding the risk of kidney injury and other serious side effects linked to long-term use. The government agency finally ordered a label change in December 2014, but for many, it was too little, too late.
Long Term PPI Use Linked to Serious Side Effects
By one estimate, US News & World Report claims that “20 percent of the Western population experiences acid reflux at least once a week.” Many Americans are prescribed proton pump inhibitor medications for long-term use as ways of managing ulcers, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, and Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome – even though the labels indicate the drugs should not be used for more than 14 days.
The longer people use PPIs, the more likely they are to suffer:
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Chronic fatigue and lethargy
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Fluid retention and fluid in the lungs
- High blood pressure
- Heart failure
- Itchy skin
- Muscle weakness and cramps
NPR found that some patients have found it extremely hard to get off PPIs once they started using them. One woman told reporters that she wanted to stop using her proton pump inhibitor when she began to suffer from muscle weakness and severe leg cramping. Though the patient had heard that PPI users were more prone to nutrient deficiencies and infections, her heartburn symptoms returned with a vengeance whenever she tried to wean herself. “I can’t seem to get off the drug, because when I do, I experience severe stomach pain. I can’t eat anything without experiencing stomach pain,” she explained.
Consolidation of PPI Lawsuits Remains to be Seen
No injury-related Proton Pump Inhibitor settlements or awards have been reached as of yet. Similar cases are in the early stages of being identified, consolidated and researched. If a consolidated litigation is approved, processes of discovery and identification of the mass tort’s strengths and weaknesses would be expedited.
Plaintiffs are currently awaiting the ruling on a Motion for Transfer that was filed on October 17, 2016 with the U.S. Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation.
While each proton pump inhibitor lawsuit contains its own set of facts pertinent to the individual, common allegations against the drug manufacturers and marketers include:
- Defective design
- Failure to warn
- Fraudulent concealment, and
- Warranty claims
Plaintiffs hope to receive compensation for losses such as: medical bills, the cost of ongoing therapy, lost past/present/future wages, disability-related home modifications, loss of consortium/companionship/support, wrongful death, and emotional pain and suffering.
Additional Proton Pump Inhibitor Lawsuit Resources:
- The Louisiana Record – PPI Medication Lawsuits May Be Transferred http://louisianarecord.com/stories/511040655-ppi-medication-lawsuits-may-be-transferred-to-the-middle-district-of-louisiana
- MedicineNet – Proton Pump Inhibitors http://www.medicinenet.com/proton-pump_inhibitors/page2.htm
- US News & World Report – Got Heartburn? http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2009/05/29/got-heartburn-a-caution-about-your-proton-pump-inhibitor
- Gastroenterology & Hepatology – Long-term Use of Proton-Pump Inhibitor Therapy https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3093718/
- Seattle Times – http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/popular-heartburn-drugs-may-increase-esophageal-cancer-risk/
- JAMA – Proton Pump Inhibitor Use and the Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2481157