The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has agreed to consolidate all federally-filed kidney damage claims involving Nexium and other proton pump inhibitors in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey.
The JPML’s Transfer Order was issued Monday, and marked the second time this year that the Panel had been asked to establish a multidistrict litigation for proton pump inhibitor lawsuits involving kidney failure, chronic kidney disease and other renal complications. The JPML rejected a similar request in February for a number of reasons, including the fact that there were just over a dozen such lawsuits pending in federal courts at that time.
The federal proton pump inhibitor litigation has now grown to include more than 160 cases in over two dozen federal jurisdictions. Two defendants, Pfizer and AstraZeneca, had also indicated that they were no longer opposed to centralization.
In selecting a venue for the centralized proton pump inhibitor litigation, the JPML pointed out that 60 claims were already pending in the District of New Jersey, more than any other federal jurisdiction.
“The district is a relatively convenient venue, and enjoys the support of most plaintiffs, as well as the AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and P&G defendants. Further, centralization in the District of New Jersey enables us to assign the litigation to Judge Claire C. Cecchi, an experienced transferee judge who already is actively managing the PPI cases filed in that district,” the Panel noted in its Transfer Order. “We are confident that the judge will steer this litigation on a prudent course.”
All of the proton pump inhibitor lawsuits being transferred to the District of New Jersey put forth similar allegations regarding the failure of defendants to warn that long-term use of Nexium, Prilosec, PrevAcid, Dexilant, and Protonix could increase a patient’s risk for kidney failure, chronic kidney disease, acute interstitial nephritis, and acute kidney injury. Plaintiffs further allege that the drugs’ makers have long been aware of reports linking proton pump inhibitors to kidney damage, but concealed this information from the public in order to protect the profits derived from sales of the popular heartburn medications.
The establishment of a multidistrict litigation is intended to improve judicial efficiency in large, complex litigations that involve common questions of fact. Coordination of pretrial proceedings via centralization conserves judicial resources, avoids duplicative discovery and fosters more consistent court rulings across multiple lawsuits that pose similar legal issues.