Millions of Americans use heartburn medications, both over the counter (OTC) and prescription-grade. While some patients have been able to safely take these drugs on a short-term basis for the relief of occasional heartburn symptoms, others who use the drugs on a long-term basis have developed severe kidney complications.
Thousands of patients who have suffered from heartburn drug complications have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers, which include Takeda Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer. Many of those lawsuits have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL), which is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The Honorable Judge, Claire C. Cecchi, is presiding.
The link between heartburn meds and kidney problems
Heartburn occurs when stomach acid backflows up into the esophagus. This can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as burning chest pain and a bitter, unpleasant taste in the mouth. For most people, infrequent heartburn and the occasional use of heartburn medications do not cause major problems.
However, some people experience heartburn multiple times per week, an indication that they may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Patients with GERD are more likely to use heartburn medications regularly, which may place them at risk of severe complications.
Heartburn drugs are in a class of medications known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). These drugs work by lowering the amount of acid in the stomach, which can reduce the backflow of acid up the esophagus. More than 15 million Americans use PPIs to treat heartburn and GERD, and concerns over the drugs’ severe side effects have been growing.
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have studied the effects of PPIs on a group of nearly 200,000 heartburn patients. Over a five-year study period, the researchers discovered that 15% of patients who used PPIs developed chronic kidney disease. In comparison, only 11% of patients who used an alternative heartburn drug, H2 blockers, developed kidney problems. Researchers say that the longer a PPI drug is used, the greater the risk is of developing complications.
Common allegations among heartburn medication plaintiffs
Since 2016, a growing number of plaintiffs have filed product liability lawsuits against the manufacturers of proton pump inhibitors. These plaintiffs allege that the defendants knew or should have known of the significant risk of kidney disease among long-time users of PPIs. The lawsuits claim that the defendants failed to provide adequate warnings about the serious risks of their OTC and prescription medications.
In addition to the risk of chronic kidney disease, other complications have been associated with PPI use. These include an increased risk of life-threatening heart attacks and pneumonia, as well as bone fractures, infections, and vitamin B12 deficiencies.
Have you suffered heartburn drug complications?
If you or a loved one has taken proton pump inhibitors and developed kidney disease or another complication, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your losses. Showard Law Firm welcomes inquiries from injured patients who would like to find out whether they have the basis to file a heartburn drug lawsuit.
Our law office offers free initial consultations so that you can explore your options for legal recourse. Schedule your case review today.
- United States District Court, Proton Pump MDL 2789, https://www.njd.uscourts.gov/proton-pump-mdl-2789
- S. News & World Report, Connecting the Dots Between Heartburn Drugs and Kidney Damage, https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2019-01-24/connecting-the-dots-between-heartburn-drugs-and-kidney-damage