Bellwether trials for proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medication lawsuits are scheduled to begin in September 2020. Consumers filed the lawsuits against the manufacturers of popular PPIs including Nexium, Prilosec, Protonix, and Prevacid after suffering serious health complications after their use of these medications.
Though the drug companies were resistant to cooperate or negotiate initially, they eventually relented and lawyers from both sides chose a trial date, confirmed in a letter to the court in early June.
Bellwether trials provide an indication of how cases will play out moving forward and how juries are likely to respond to arguments. These trials can also affect the choices both sides make concerning settling out of court. Some cases might also be dismissed based on bellwether outcomes.
There are currently more than 4500 lawsuits pending in the New Jersey federal court system related to PPI medications as of mid-June 2018. The cases were grouped into multi-district litigation in August 2017 in an effort to organize the process.
What are PPI Medications?
PPI, which stands for proton pump inhibitor, medicine is used to block the enzyme in the stomach that produces acid. This reduces the risk for ulcers, helps existing ulcers heal faster, and helps manage GERD (gastroesophageal reflux).
Though there are different PPI medications available, most of them work in the same way and there is none that is considered more effective than another.
However, they do vary in how the liver breaks them down and in how they interact with other medications. Some PPIs are longer lasting than others and have longer periods of time between doses.
What are the Side Effects of Long-term PPI Use?
Many people have used PPIs without incidence, at least for a short period of time. However, there is evidence that use of these medications, especially long-term, can cause a number of health complications.
For instance, an increasing number of PPI users have experienced kidney problems, including inflammatory kidney disease and acute kidney injury. Use of PPI medication can also increase the risk of death in people who already have kidney health issues.
Another study looked at PPI users with normal kidney function over a 15 year period. Study participants were 50 percent more likely than those not using PPIs to develop chronic kidney disease. The increase was not seen in patients using H2 blockers, a class of medications used to treat similar health issues but that work in a different way than PPIs.
Researchers have a few theories for why PPIs might negatively affect kidney health. Short-term use of PPIs causes kidney tissue inflammation, which over time, leads to permanent kidney damage.
PPI use also negatively affects magnesium levels and insufficient magnesium causes kidney damage. The most recent studies show that Nexium, Prilosec, and other PPI medication usage can lead to chronic kidney disease and end-stage kidney failure. Many users have needed dialysis and/or kidney transplant surgery as a result of their PPI use.
Despite these studies, manufacturers failed to provide consumers with any information concerning the risks associated with their products. Hundreds of thousands of people use PPI medications every day to control symptoms associated with ulcers, GERD, and other gastrointestinal problems, unknowingly exposing themselves to serious health risks.
Based on the information gleaned from the medical studies and the numerous PPI users who experienced kidney health issues, lawsuits began to emerge against the drug manufacturers.
These lawsuits claim the makers knew there were serious health risks, but failed to warn the public. Now, drug manufacturers face legal action and could be held legally responsible for the damage caused by their products.