July 24, 2019

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Proton Pump Inhibitor MDL to be Reconsidered in July Hearing

People who have potential claims against manufacturers of proton pump inhibitors should know that the arguments for the motion to centralize the lawsuits into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) will be heard in July by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL).

This hearing will include 163 cases that have been filed against manufacturers of various proton pump inhibitors including Prilosec, Dexilant, Nexium and Protonix. The decision is likely to be announced in mid-August.

Effects of Proton Pump Inhibitors

Proton pump inhibitors have been prescribed by doctors for years to patients with severe cases of heartburn. The drugs have been shown to be highly effective in treating conditions, such as acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), dyspepsia, peptic ulcers and stomach ulcers.

However, studies carried out recently have shown that the drugs can be very dangerous especially when they are taken over a long period. One such study linked long term use of the drug in patients to the development of chronic kidney disease.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warnings in December 2014 on the use of the drug. The health risks outlined by the FDA on the prolonged use of these proton pump inhibitors included:

  1. Chronic kidney disease
  2. Kidney failure
  3. Acute interstitial nephritis
  4. Acute kidney injury

All proton pump inhibitors that were listed in the FDA warning included Omeprazole as their active ingredient. This chemical works by inhibiting the production of histamine and therefore preventing the production of acid by the stomach lining. The results are reduced stomach acid.

Lawsuits against PPIs

Several lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers of these PPIs with defendants claiming that the drugs have resulted in the development of various life threatening side effects. The most notable of these lawsuits was that filed by George Miullen in August 2016 against the manufacturers of Nexium, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. He claimed that the kidney problems he developed were a result of the use of Nexium, which was prescribed for him by his doctor on several occasions.

What next

A motion to centralize the lawsuits into an MDL in Southern District of Illinois was sought by plaintiffs in May. This followed the denial to centralize the PPI cases by the JPMDL in January. However, the JPDML admits that there have been significant developments that warrant a second look at the option to consolidate the cases.

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