Consumer Drug Safety

Nexium Lawsuit Filed for Acute Interstitial Nephritis (AIN)

Nexium is a drug used to treat heartburn and acid reflux disease, and is one of the most used medications in the United States. Recently, allegations have arisen accusing Nexium of causing kidney damage in users. One lawsuit alleges use of Nexium led to the development of acute interstitial nephritis (AIN) that required dialysis treatment for one Tennessee man. The complaint was filed in US District Court for the Western District of Tennessee on July 5, 2016 by Charles Bowers against Nexium manufacturer AstraZeneca.

According to the Bowers claim, AstraZeneca failed to warn patients and health practitioners about the link between Nexium and AIN, even though the company was aware of the risk.

What is AIN?

Interstitial nephritis is a kidney disorder in which the space between kidney tubules become inflamed. Over time, this can lead to more serious kidney health issues, including kidney failure and an ongoing need for dialysis treatment.

The now FDA require AstraZeneca to include information on the Nexium warning label, alerting users to the risk for developing AIN. There is also evidence other proton pump inhibitors, including Prevacid and Prevacid put users at the same risk.

According to Bowers’ lawsuit, he began using Nexium during the summer of 2003 to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and duodenal ulcer disease. Within five years he was diagnosed with severe drug-induced AIN, which was later upgraded to sever chronic AIN by the following year. Bowers must now undergo dialysis treatment three times a week and will eventually need a kidney transplant.

The lawsuit alleges AstraZeneca was aware of the risks associated with Nexium, but failed to warn consumers or the medical community. The complaint states:

“Defendants failed to adequately warn against the negative effects and risks associated with Nexium. In omitting, concealing, and inadequately providing critical safety information regarding the use of Nexium in order to induce its purchase and use, Defendants engaged in and continue to engage in conduct likely to mislead consumers including Plaintiff. This conduct is fraudulent, unfair, and unlawful.”

Bowers case is just one of many in which users of PPI medications accuse manufactures of hiding side effects. There are currently lawsuits against Prilosec, Prevacid, and others PPIs, as well as additional lawsuits against Nexium. Each of the claims include allegations that manufacturers knew there was a risk for kidney damage, but failed to warn consumers, placing profits ahead of health and safety.

An April 2015 study published in the medical journal CMAJ Open backs up the claims in the lawsuits. The study found in addition to AIN, Nexium users are also facing an increased risk for acute kidney injury, which can result in the abrupt loss of kidney function.

An additional study in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine showed an increased risk of 50% for chronic kidney disease for users of PPI medications. Then, in May 2015, one more study published in the Journal of American Society of Nephrology showed an increased risk for kidney failure and chronic kidney disease for long-term users of Nexium and other PPIs.

PPIs accounted for more than $9.5 billion in 2012, and Nexium was the top-selling of all the PPI drugs, earning nearly $6 billion in 2012. PPIs are one of the most prescribed and over-the-counter medications available today. And some suspect much of this PPI use could be inappropriate for patients. Estimates show anywhere from a quarter to nearly three quarters of users might be taking the medications unnecessarily.

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