Prilosec Lawsuit

Prilosec was the 7th-most prescribed medication in 2017.

More than 58 million people had Prilosec prescriptions.

AstraZeneca, the manufacturer of both Prilosec and Nexium, has been accused of aggressively marketing Nexium as an improvement for Prilosec when in fact it was simply a replacement in order to keep making profits on a PPI drug because Prilosec’s patent was about to expire.

Prilosec has been linked by studies to an increased risk of bone fractures, kidney disease, and other severe medical conditions.

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  • What Is Prilosec?
    • What Kinds of Prilosec Are There?
    • Who Manufactures Prilosec?
    • When Was Prilosec Developed?
    • How Does Prilosec Work?
  • What Is Prilosec Prescribed to Treat?
    • What Is Acid Reflux?
    • What Is GERD?
      • What Are the Symptoms of GERD?
    • What Is Heartburn?
      • What Are the Symptoms of Heartburn?
    • What Is a Peptic Ulcer?
      • What Are the Symptoms of a Peptic Ulcer?
    • What Is Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome?
      • What Are the Symptoms of Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome?
  • What Are the Side Effects of Prilosec?
    • What Are the Severe Side Effects of Prilosec?
  • What Are the Risks of Taking Prilosec?
    • What Are Fractures?
    • What Is a Heart Attack?
      • What Are the Symptoms of a Heart Attack?
    • What Is Hypomagnesemia?
      • What Are the Symptoms of Hypomagnesemia?
    • What Is Kidney Disease?
      • What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Disease?
  • What Are Prilosec’s Links to Kidney Disease?
  • What Prilosec Lawsuits Are There?
  • Should I Consider Hiring a Prilosec Lawyer?

What Is Prilosec?

Prilosec is the brand name of the proton pump inhibitor omeprazole. Omeprazole is the generic name for the drug. Like other proton pump inhibitors, Prilosec is designed to limit the amount of stomach acid produced and is prescribed to treat conditions that are caused by an excess of stomach acid, such as GERD and acid reflux.

What Kinds of Prilosec Are There?

The different kinds of Prilosec include:

  • Prilosec
  • Prilosec OTC
  • Prilosec Oral

Because Prilosec’s patent has now expired, it’s also available in its generic form: omeprazole. There are also other brands of omeprazole available, including:

  • OmePPi
  • Zegerid OTC

Who Manufactures Prilosec?

Prilosec is manufactured by British-Swedish company AstraZeneca. AstraZeneca formed from the merger of British company Zeneca Group and Swedish company Astra AB in 1999. The merger resulted in the creation of AstraZeneca, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. The company is involved in both neuroscience research and pharmaceutical development.

The company manufactures both Prilosec and Nexium, as well as a number of other medications for conditions such as:

  • Respiratory ailments
  • Cancer
  • Gastrointestinal conditions
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Inflammation
  • Infections

When Was Prilosec Developed?

Prilosec was patented in 1978 and was first approved for sale ten years later in 1988. Because Prilosec’s patent has now expired, it is also available in its generic form as omeprazole. This expiration of the patent caused some controversy with Prilosec’s successor drug at AstraZeneca, Nexium. AstraZeneca was accused of developing and marketing Nexium very aggressively as an “improvement” to Prilosec in order to maintain the profits they’d been receiving from Prilosec that would decrease when the generic version became available and other companies were allowed to market omeprazole drugs themselves.

While Prilosec and Nexium are slightly different (Prilosec is omeprazole while Nexium is esomeprazole, a different isomer of omeprazole), AstraZeneca was accused of measuring a higher dosage of Nexium in its effort to prove that Nexium was more effective than Prilosec.

How Does Prilosec Work?

Prilosec works in the same way as other proton pump inhibitors, by blocking the production of stomach acid. It does this by blocking the enzyme H+/K+ATPase on the stomach’s parietal cells. This enzyme is involved in the final stage of the production of stomach acid. By inhibiting that final step, Prilosec and other PPIs block the production of stomach acid.

What Is Prilosec Prescribed to Treat?

Prilosec is prescribed to treat medical conditions that result from the overproduction of stomach acid or the presence of stomach acid in the esophagus. These conditions can include:

  • Acid reflux
  • GERD
  • Heartburn
  • Peptic Ulcers
  • Zollinger-Ellison syndrome

What Is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux occurs when the esophageal sphincter, a band of muscle around the end of the esophagus where it meets the stomach, inappropriately relaxes. The esophageal sphincter is only supposed to relax in order to allow food and drink to make their way from the esophagus into the stomach. Whenever food or drink isn’t traveling to the stomach, the sphincter is supposed to tighten to prevent stomach acid from backing up into the esophagus. When the esophageal sphincter doesn’t tighten as it should, acid does creep up into th esophagus, which doesn’t have a lining strong enough to protect it from the harsh stomach acid, resulting in acid reflux.

What Is GERD?

GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is more severe heartburn or acid reflux. Acid reflux is generally manageable with lifestyle changes, but those with GERD may need prescription medication to treat the symptoms. Acid reflux is considered to be GERD when it occurs with mild symptoms twice or more times a week or when it occurs with severe symptoms at least once a week.

What Are the Symptoms of GERD?

The symptoms of GERD can be similar to those of heartburn, but may also be more severe. GERD symptoms can include:

  • The feeling of a lump in the throat
  • Regurgitation of:
    • Sour liquid
    • Food
  • Chest pain
  • Heartburn
  • Trouble swallowing

For anyone who experiences nighttime heartburn, there are some additional symptoms they may experience with GERD:

  • Laryngitis
  • Chronic cough
  • Worsening asthma, if the patient already had asthma
  • New asthma, if the patient didn’t already have asthma
  • Interrupted sleep

What Is Heartburn?

Heartburn is the burning sensation that occurs because of acid reflux. It’s a pain in the chest that is located behind the breastbone. Typically, it’s worse at night, after eating, when lying down, or when bending over. It’s caused by the presence of stomach acid in the esophagus. The stomach has a lining that’s designed to protect the organ’s walls from the acid produced within it. The esophagus doesn’t have the same protection, so the presence of acid within the pipe can cause pain and, eventually, scarring, the narrowing of the esophagus, or ulcers.

What Are the Symptoms of Heartburn?

The symptoms of heartburn include:

  • Bitter taste in the mouth
  • Sour taste in the mouth
  • Chest pain that:
    • Is burning
    • Worsens when lying down
    • Worsens when bending over
    • Occurs after eating
    • Occurs at night

What Is a Peptic Ulcer?

A peptic ulcer occurs when an open sore forms within either the stomach or the upper small intestine. There are two different types of peptic ulcer:

  • Duodenal ulcers
  • Gastric ulcers

Gastric ulcers occur within the stomach while duodenal ulcers occur in the duodenum, which is the upper portion of the small intestine.

What Are the Symptoms of a Peptic Ulcer?

The symptoms of peptic ulcers can include:

  • Bloating
  • Belching
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Stomach pain (typically burning)
  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Fatty food intolerance

Some may experience more severe symptoms, which can include the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Vomiting blood (red or black)
  • Black or tarry stools
  • Bloody stools
  • Nausea
  • Trouble breathing
  • Feeling faint
  • Changes in appetite
  • Unintentional weight loss

What Is Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome?

Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a rare condition in which the body develops tumors that increase the amount of stomach acid the stomach produces. This excess stomach acid can lead to heartburn, GERD, and even ulcers in the stomach and upper small intestine.

What Are the Symptoms of Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome?

The symptoms associated with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome include:

  • Acid reflux
  • Hearburn
  • Burping
  • A feeling in the upper abdomen of:
    • Discomfort
    • Aching
    • Gnawing
    • Burning
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Digestive tract bleeding

What Are the Side Effects of Prilosec?

The more common side effects of taking Prilosec can include:

  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Constipation

What Are the Severe Side Effects of Prilosec?

If anyone experiences the more severe side effects of taking Prilosec, they should seek medical attention immediately. These side effects can include the following:

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Swelling in the:
    • Face
    • Tongue
    • Lips
    • Throat
    • Eyes
    • Ankles
    • Feet
    • Lower legs
    • Hands
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hoarseness
  • A heartbeat that is:
    • Irregular
    • Fast
    • Pounding
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Jitteriness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Cramps
  • Seizures
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Severe diarrhea accompanied by:
    • Fever that doesn’t go away
    • Stomach pain
    • Watery stools
  • New joint pain
  • Worsening joint pain
  • Rash that is sensitive to sunlight on the:
    • Cheeks
    • Arms
  • Bloody urine
  • Decreased urination

What Are the Risks of Taking Prilosec?

In patients taking Prilosec for a long period of time, there’s a greater risk of:

  • Fractures
  • Heart attack
  • Hypomagnesemia
  • Kidney disease

What Are Fractures?

Medically, fractures are any severity of bone fracture, ranging from minor fractures to severe breakages of bone. While most are caused by an accident or physical trauma, fractures can also be caused when bones are weaker. Those with osteoporosis are more susceptible to fractures, for example, because the bones are not as strong. Certain medications can lead to the weakening of bones, resulting in a higher risk of bone fractures.

What Is a Heart Attack?

A heart attack is a medical event that occurs when a blockage prevents the flow of blood from reaching the heart. Heart attacks are called myocardial infarctions in medical terms. Typically, the blockage is caused by plaque, which is a buildup in the arteries of cholesterol or fat. They’re much more survivable than in years past thanks to modern medicine, but they’re still very dangerous. Anyone experiencing a heart attack should seek immediate medical attention. Even so, heart attacks can damage or even destroy parts of the heart, so prompt medical treatment and prevention are essential.

What Are the Symptoms of a Heart Attack?

The symptoms of a heart attack can include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Abdominal pain
  • Indigestion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • A feeling in the arms or chest (that can spread to the back, neck, or jaw) of:
    • Pain
    • Pressure
    • Tightness
    • Aching
    • Squeezing

What Is Hypomagnesemia?

Hypomagnesemia is another name of low levels of magnesium. It occurs when the body isn’t getting enough magnesium, usually in the diet, but it can also result due to certain medications.

What Are the Symptoms of Hypomagnesemia?

The symptoms of hypomagnesemia can include:

  • A heartbeat that is:
    • Unusually
      • Fast
      • Slow
    • Irregular
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures

What Is Kidney Disease?

Chronic kidney disease is the also known as kidney failure. It’s the gradual failure of the functions of the kidneys. The kidneys are involved in the process of filtering waste out of the body as urine. However, in patients with kidney failure, the kidneys lose this function over time. This can result in the dangerous buildup in the body of:

  • Fluids
  • Electrolytes
  • Waste

What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Disease?

The symptoms of chronic kidney disease can include the following:

  • Decrease in appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Changes in urination amount
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle twitches
  • Decrease in mental acuity
  • Itching
  • Swollen ankles
  • Swollen feet
  • High blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath

What Are Prilosec’s Links to Kidney Disease?

A 2016 JAMA study found links between proton pump inhibitors and an increase in the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid are all proton pump inhibitors and would therefore carry the same risk of chronic kidney disease. The study indicated that taking PPIs long-term indicated between a 20% and 50% increase in the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. The study also indicated an increased risk of hypomagnesemia and other medical conditions.

The study also found that up to 70% of patients taking Prilosec or another proton pump inhibitor are doing so unnecessarily and that there wasn’t a medical reason for them to be taking the drug, especially long-term.

What Prilosec Lawsuits Are There?

As of March in 2020, there were at least 13,000 lawsuits against AstraZeneca, the manufacturer of both Nexium and Prilosec. Judge Claire C. Cecchi is presiding over the multi-district ligitation, or MDL, that is the consolidation of many of these thousands of cases. The result has yet to be decided, however.

AstraZeneca has already settled a major lawsuit in 2005 over claims that it had developed Nexium solely in order to maintain the profits they’d been receiving from Prilosec, whose patent was close to expiring, rather than as an actual improvement to Prilosec. The ongoing lawsuits against the company are related to health conditions that patients developed following taking PPIs for a long period of time.

Should I Consider Hiring a Prilosec Lawyer?

If you or a loved one has taken Prilosec long-term, you may have a case against AstraZeneca. There’s no guarantee for any case, so each must be weighed on its own merits. Seeger Weiss offers a free consultation in order to evaluate each case. If you or your loved one has suffered from medical complications due to taking Prilosec, you may be eligible for compensation if your case is successful. This compensation could be awarded for the following:

  • Wrongful death
  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical costs
  • Lost wages
Notwithstanding claims relating to this product, the drug/medical device remains approved by the U.S. FDA. 

View Sources

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