Reportedly more than 160 individual proton pump inhibitor (PPI) lawsuits have been approved for multidistrict litigation (MDL), effectively consolidating them into a quicker, simpler legal process. Many of the initial claims originated from people using the long-term heartburn medication Nexium, but other similar prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs have been linked to the same health issues.
Other heartburn medications noted in the PPI class are:
- Nexium 24HR
- Prilosec & Prilosec OTC
- PrevAcid & PrevAcid 24HR
The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation recently created a Transfer Order to move the cases into the jurisdiction of the District of New Jersey. In addition to the 161 cases mentioned in the Transfer Order, language within the document will allow any other claim with similar components and complaints filed within the future to fall into the definitions of the MDL. Pretrial proceedings will need to be reviewed before the MDL is taken further.
Rather than hundreds of cases being passed before judges, the MDL effectively compiled all complaints into one folder and only requires one judge to examine it. This “shortcut” benefits the plaintiffs of an MDL, as they may have otherwise needed to wait years and years before their claim would have been heard.
How Common are PPI Problems?
Millions of people all across the country use proton pump inhibitors to alleviate chronic heartburn, indigestion, and other peptic conditions. Concerns about the safety of PPI medications started to arise a few years ago when new studies, including those conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), began uncovering potential dangers, hazardous side effects, and other complications. In particular, kidney complications were the most common problem reported by patients and medication users. The Journal of the American Society of Nephrology estimated that the increased chance of kidney failure in PPI users could be as high as 96%.
After its own evaluation of PPI medications most commonly prescribed, the FDA ordered big pharmaceutical companies to list additional warnings on the packaging. It found that acute damage to the kidney tubules could occur as “sudden inflammation” and eventually deteriorate to permanent kidney damage and total kidney failure.
Failure to Warn Leads to Legal Action
Within the MDL that compiled proton pump inhibitor cases, there is the accusation that the drug manufacturing companies creating these types of medications knew about the potential for kidney harm for years. Indeed, the plaintiffs have asserted that big pharma could have easily prevented most or all instances of serious kidney failure had the warnings been stated upfront.
The recent approval of the MDL is a significant victory for plaintiffs and anyone who has suffered due to PPI usage. At the beginning of the year, a similar attempt to create an MDL for the lawsuits was denied because only 15 people were coming forth as plaintiffs. With a heightened effort to make individuals aware of their rights after being hurt by a dangerous drug, the 100+ new plaintiffs reached out to personal injury lawyers around the country for help. With the MDL just beginning, the future could be promising for plaintiffs in pursuit of fair compensation.
Do you need legal representation after you or a loved one suffered a serious illness or health condition when using a proton pump inhibitor medication? Bertram & Graf, L.L.C. and our Kansas City product liability attorneys can help you discover your rights and legal options, and how to utilize the MDL to seek justice and damages. Contact our firm at your first opportunity to request a free consultation with our staff.