A couple from New Jersey are the latest plaintiffs to file a lawsuit over kidney injuries allegedly caused by AstraZeneca’s heartburn medication Nexium.
The husband was prescribed Nexium a number of times between May 2006 and February 2015 to treat conditions including acid reflux and indigestion.In their lawsuit, the husband and wife allege that the PPI (proton pump inhibitor) medication Nexium (esomeprazole) caused the husband’s acute kidney damage and chronic kidney disease. The couple now faces serious and ongoing medical problems.Nexium Background
Nexium (esomeprazole) is a widely used medication for heartburn, ulcers, and acid reflux, and is available in both prescription and over-the-counter formulas. Nexium is a proton pump inhibitor. This class of drugs also includes Prilosec (omeprazole) and Prevacid (lansoprazole). Proton pump inhibitors reduce the production of acid in the stomach, so that if stomach juices back up into the esophagus, it is less irritating.
The Nexium label failed to warn about the risk of kidney damage. The New Jersey man and other consumers were widely unaware of the possible association. According to the lawsuit, he experienced acute kidney injury and has suffered chronic kidney disease since 2014. The husband and wife filed the PPI lawsuit after learning that research has linked Nexium to an increased the chances of acute interstitial nephritis.
Parker Waichman notes that other serious side effects have also been linked to PPI use. These medications are associated with bone fractures and chronic infections, including C. difficile and pneumonia.
Nexium and Kidney Complications
Recent studies have shown that PPI use significantly increases the risk of kidney injury and kidney disease. The popular heartburn medications Nexium and Prilosec have both been linked to kidney problems.
A study in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that proton pump inhibitors posed an increased risk of kidney problems compared to other heartburn medications. The study found a 96 percent increased risk of kidney failure when patients took proton pump inhibitors, and a 28 percent increased risk of chronic kidney disease. This risk was comparatively higher than the risk associated with H2 receptor blockers, another class of heartburn medications. Zantac and Tagamet are H2 receptor blockers. A study in the February 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) also found a potential link between chronic kidney disease and proton pump inhibitors. According to the study, people who take a PPI have a 20 to 50 percent greater risk of developing chronic kidney disease compared to individuals who do not use PPIs.
The JAMA study did not demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship, but it did establish a link between PPI use and kidney injury. The study suggests that the kidneys may lose their ability to properly filter the blood, allowing toxins to build up in the body. A patient with chronic kidney disease may eventually need kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant. If the toxins cannot be successfully filtered from the blood, the individual may die from the toxicity.
Researchers are not certain why kidney disease may result from proton pump inhibitor use. Dr. Morgan Grams, a Baltimore nephrologist and author of the JAMA study, said Nexium and other PPIs reduce magnesium levels in the body, and kidney damage results from the lack of this important mineral. Researchers say that constant acute kidney inflammation caused over time by Nexium or other PPIs may cause kidney damage in the long term.
Some researchers think PPIs are overprescribed. Because of the kidney risks, researchers advise doctors to prescribe PPIs sparingly and for the shortest period of time necessary, according to CNN. Instead of PPIs, physicians could choose to prescribe an H2 receptio blocker like Zantac and Tagamet.
Many people believe that if a drug is available without a prescription it does not pose health risks. They freely use over-the-counter drugs. But over-the-counter medications can pose serious risks, even at lower strength than the prescription form. People using over-the-counter PPIs consult their doctors and should discuss possible health consequences of long-term use. In many instances, lifestyle changes, including quitting smoking, losing weight, and making dietary changes, can help relieve heartburn and other symptoms. Careful short-term use of PPIs can alleviate symptoms and allow esophagus damage to heal.
Legal Help for Nexium Side Effects
If you or someone you know taking Nexium has developed kidney disease or other side effects associated with PPI use, the attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP are available to offer a free, no obligation case evaluation. To reach the firm, fill out the contact form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).