Proton pump inhibitor manufacturers continue to aggressively market their products, even as lawsuits over the drugs’ alleged association with kidney failure and other serious renal complications continue to mount in courts around the U.S. Just last month, for example, a new “spokescharacter” dubbed “Lurker” began turning up in TV commercials for PrevAcid 24Hr, an over-the-counter proton pump inhibitor marketed by GlaxoSmithKline.
“Our Lurker character was developed to communicate the risk of recurrence of frequent heartburn,” a spokesperson for GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare said in a recent email to FiercePharma. “We explored several creative options and decided on the Lurker due to its ability to convey the idea in a truly engaging manner.”
According to FirecePharma, one recent PrevAcid 24HR commercial features Lurker hiding in the bushes while two women drink coffee nearby. The “flame with legs” giggles as it chases off one of the women after she fails to take the heartburn medication.
According to RXInjuryHelp.com, more than 20 million Americans use proton pump inhibitors every year to relieve symptoms of GERD and other problems associated with excess stomach acid. Because the drugs are so popular, few give any thought to their potential side effects. But recent studies linking proton pump inhibitors to kidney failure, chronic kidney disease and other kidney injuries suggest that these medications are not risk-free, especially if used for long periods of time.
A growing number of lawsuits have been filed in U.S. courts on behalf of patients who allegedly developed kidney problems due to their use of PrevAcid and other proton pump inhibitors. Last month, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) heard Oral Arguments on a proposal to centralize all such federal claims a single U.S. District Court for coordinated pretrial proceedings. While many plaintiffs favored consolidation, defendants had voiced their opposition. On February 2nd, the Panel ruled against centralization, finding that there were too few pending cases to warrant the creation of a multidistrict litigation. The JPML also suggested that inclusion of competing pharmaceutical companies and multiple over-the-counter and prescription drugs would complicate case management.
The JPML’s decision is not the end of the proton pump inhibitor litigation, as kidney injury lawsuits continue to be filed against the manufacturers of PrevAcid, Prilosec and Nexium. At some point, plaintiffs’ attorneys might petition for centralization again, especially if the number of lawsuits continues to grow. They may even seek separate multidistrict litigations for each of the medications involved in the litigation.
Individuals diagnosed with kidney failure or other renal complications following long-term use of PrevAcid 24HR or another proton pump inhibitor may be entitle to compensation. To contact an attorney to discuss a potential claim, please call Bernstein Liebhard LLP at (888) 994-8177.