Proton Pump Inhibitor Lawsuits
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are a class of medication used to treat a number of common abdominal conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, stomach and duodenal ulcers, heartburn and erosive esophagitis. The medication works by obstructing the proton pump—an integral membrane protein—which then restricts or blocks the release of acid into a patient’s stomach. As of 2013, more than 130 million prescriptions had been written for PPI’s, including commonly known brands such as Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid, Protonix, Dexilant and Aciphex.
What is the issue with PPIs?
As is typical with many medications, PPI’s can cause a number of common side effects, to include:
- Joint ache and muscle pain
- Stomach pain
- Nausea and Diarrhea
- Skin irritation
However, research published as early as 2010 suggests that the extended use of PPI’s has been linked to the development of many other serious health conditions, ranging from birth defects when used by pregnant women, to bone fractures and even chronic kidney disease.
The Use of PPIs Can Increase Risks of Kidney Failure and Dementia
Most recently, studies have suggested that the use of PPI’s may be linked to an increased risk for acute and chronic kidney disease. Canadian scientists found that of nearly 300,000 people studied, participants who took PPI’s were more than twice as likely to suffer from kidney failure than those who did not. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study in February 2016 that also suggests a link between the use of PPI’s and the increased risk of chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease, or renal failure, develops as a result of repeated damage to the kidneys and effects a patient’s inability to filter metabolic products from the blood. This study, in addition to other similar findings, indicated that the greater the frequency and longevity of PPI use, the greater the risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
JAMA Neurology also published research in February, which linked the consumption of PPIs like Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec and Aciphex, to a 44% higher incidence of dementia in senior patients. German researchers concluded that out of more than 70,000 participants, those who received proton pump inhibitors “had a significantly increased risk of incident dementia compared with the patients not receiving PPI medication”.
Reports Indicate Other PPI-Related Complications
The severe complications related to the use of PPIs first came to light in 2010, when the FDA began to warn consumers of the risks. At this time, various epidemiological studies reported an increased risk of fractures associated with the medication. Specifically, the greatest increase in risk involved patients who had been taking prescription PPIs for at least 1 year or who had been taking high doses of prescription PPIs. As a result, the Administration published updated safety information on the labels of both prescription and over-the-counter medications.
In 2011, Public Citizen, a consumer group, filed a petition urging the FDA to issue a “Black Box” warning for PPI medications. The petition was filed after multiple studies alleged a connection between the development of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea and the use of PPI’s. Clostridium difficile is a type of bacteria that is usually associated with the long-term use of antibiotics. These bacteria cause severe intestinal problems including diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite, nausea and abdominal pain—symptoms which do not typically subside without further treatment. Research published in a study led by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School revealed that patients taking PPIs daily had a 74% increased risk of developing Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea, and that patients taking more than a one PPI daily had an increased risk of more than 100%. In 2014—more than three years after the petition was filed—the FDA published additional safety information related to this risk, though declined to issue a “Black Box” label warning.
PPI Victims Have Legal Rights
Several product liability lawsuits have been filed against PPI manufacturers claiming that the manufacturers had knowledge of the increased risks of severe side effects, yet continued to market and sell the PPI medications to consumers. Plaintiffs’ attorneys also maintain that PPI manufacturers misrepresented the medications as being safe for consumer use, and that consumers were not properly warned of the risks.
If you or a loved one were prescribed proton pump inhibitor medications, such as Prilosec, Nexium, or Prevacid, and have suffered acute or chronic kidney failure, bone fractures, or Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea, you may be eligible to seek legal redress.
The Law Offices of Peter Angelos has represented victims of defective and unsafe pharmaceutical products for over 50 years. Our attorneys have extensive experience in handling product liability cases and in litigating complex and high-stakes corporate liability cases. We are willing and able to effectively stand up against large pharmaceutical companies that make unsafe medications and products available to the public. For more information about the risks associated with PPI use, or to schedule a free legal consultation with one of our pharmaceutical liability attorneys, contact the Law Offices of Peter Angelos.