Nexium, or esomeprazole, is a drug that is used to treat heartburn and excessive amounts of acid in the stomach. Specifically, it is used to treat duodenal and gastric ulcers, esophagitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. Nexium is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) that decreases the amount of acid produced in the stomach. Other drugs that are in the same class as Nexium include Prevacid and Prilosec. Approximately 15 million Americans use PPIs that are sold both as prescription and over-the-counter. Nexium sales exceed $3 billion a year.
- 2019 Update: These drugs have had a troubled history. Zantac, which was long considered a great and safe drug, has now been associated with cancer.
Nexium is a controversial drug. At one point, bone fracture lawsuits were all the rage because there was data suggesting Nexium, particularly the long-term use of Nexium, would cause bone fractures and breaks. We believed many of these cases were meritorious. But the litigation did not get very far.
Now product liability lawyers are turning their attention to the kidney problems Nexium may cause. There have been literally hundreds of reports of injury reported to the FDA in association with PPIs like Nexium and other PPIs.
As early as 1989, the FDA began getting reports of kidney problems with PPIs like Nexium. Recent studies suggest the possibility that prolonged use of PPIs is associated with a 20% to 50% higher risk of incident chronic kidney disease.
If you have serious kidney disease after taking Nexium for an extended period, you may be eligible for a lawsuit to recover money damages. Call us today at 800-553-8082 and find out if you may qualify. You can also get a free on-line case review to find out whether you may be eligible for financial compensation.
History of Nexium
When PPIs were initially approved in the 1980s, they were thought to be safe. However, further use has elucidated its side effects. PPIs have been associated with hip fracture, stomach problems, pneumonia, C. diff, interstitial nephritis, most germane to what we are talking about here, kidney injuries.
The FDA recommends taking Nexium for the shortest possible time at the lowest possible dose. Other side effects include allergic reaction including itching or hives, swelling in face or hands, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, blistering, rapid heartbeat, fever, joint pain, weight gain, seizures, dizziness, muscle cramps, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and bloody or black stools.
PPIs have also been linked to an inflammatory kidney disease known as acute interstitial nephritis (AIN), which leads to swelling of spaces inside the kidney and causes fever, rash, blood in the urine, and decreased urine output. Recently, there have been reports that Nexium is associated with chronic kidney disease (CKD), a kidney disorder to eventually leads to renal failure.
CKD is a tough disease that causes a gradual loss of kidney function. One real problem with CKD is the lack of warning. CKD is often diagnosed by testing creatinine blood levels. But creatinine levels are often normal in the early stages of CKD. So often by the time the disease is diagnosed, it is too late to prevent permanent damage.
A study published in February 2016 in JAMA Internal Medicine investigated a potential association between the use of PPIs and CKD. In this study, 10,482 participants were followed from an initial visit between 1996-1999 to 2011 who used PPIs. The participants who used PPI were compared with participants who did not use a drug, as well as participants who used another class of acid-reducing drugs, histamine2 (H2) receptor antagonists that include Zantac, Tagamet, and Pepcid. The study found that PPI use was associated with a 20% to 50% higher rate of CKD. In comparison, the use of H2 receptor antagonists was not associated with any kidney problems. Also, using a PPI twice daily was associated with a higher rate of CKD than using it once daily. The study also tested the association of PPIs and CKD in a separate group of 250,000 patients, where it also noted the association. Thus, this study established an association of PPIs, including Nexium, with CKD.
Another study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University and the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital in Australis followed 10,000 adults with normal kidney function from 1996 to 2011. They found that in participants who used PPIs, there was a 50% greater likelihood of development of CKD than in participants who did not use PPIs.
Moreover, a study conducted by the SUNY Buffalo School of Medicine tested 24,000 patients between 2001 and 2008 who developed CKD. The study found that one out of four of these patients were treated with a PPI. The study also found that in patients who took PPIs, the risk of dying prematurely had doubled.
One doctor at the University of California, San Francisco has recommended that people should not take PPIs as initial therapy to relieve heartburn. He noted that doctors initially saw the benefits of PPI and started using them immediately as they were expected to be safe. In fact, they come with several side effects. He recommends that people should initially change their lifestyle, including diet, termination of smoking, or reduction of alcohol consumption, and only take PPIs if lifestyle changes do not improve their symptoms.
Nexium Kidney Lawsuits Allegations
When lawyers file a lawsuit, they bring a lot of claims. Lawsuits have been filed arguing that Nexium as poorly designed and manufactured. Those claims are a sideshow to what will be the core issue in these cases: the failure to warn. Drugs come with risks. We all get that. But the core allegation in these lawsuits is that Nexium’s manufacturer had a duty to warn the plaintiff and her doctors of the risks to let them make an informed choice. Few people are clamoring for a Nexium recall. For some, the risk may be worth the benefits. But doctors should have all the information to help patients make the right call.