Proton Pump Inhibitor Lawsuits: JPML Decision on Centralization of Kidney Claims Imminent

Published on January 31, 2017 by Laurie Villanueva

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Plaintiffs pursuing proton pump inhibitor lawsuits over the kidney side effects allegedly associated with use of the popular heartburn drugs could soon learn if their cases will be centralized in a single federal jurisdiction. Court records indicate that the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) heard Oral Arguments on the matter last Thursday, and a decision could come any day.

Nearly 100 such lawsuits have been filed in federal courts on behalf of individuals who allegedly developed kidney failure, chronic kidney disease and other renal complications following treatment with prescription versions of Nexium, Prilosec, PrevAcid and others. However, plaintiffs’ attorneys contend that as many as 5,000 such claims are currently being evaluated and prepped for filing. According to Law360.com, one JPML member characterized the litigation as “nightmarishly” complex, due to the variety of products available, and the fact that many patients used multiple drugs during the course of treatment.

Plaintiffs want the entire federal docket centralized in a single U.S. District Court, preferably the Middle District of Louisiana. Among other things, they contend that separate litigations for each medication, or for prescription and over-the-counter versions, could produce “disastrous inconsistencies.”

Proton Pump Inhibitors and the Kidneys

In 2014, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) asked the manufacturers of prescription proton pump inhibitos to add information about acute interstitial nephritis to their product labels. This dangerous condition results in the sudden inflammation of the kidney tubules, and can progress to kidney disease and renal failure if not treated appropriately. Since then, a number of studies have suggested that long-term proton pump inhibitor use may also increase an individual’s risk of chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury, and even renal failure.

According to RXInjuryhelp.com, the JPML was created by Congress in 1968 to reduce judicial backlog in the federal court system, and is composed of seven district or appeals court judges from different judicial circuits.  If the Panel decides to centralize the proton pump inhibitor litigation, all federally-filed kidney claims involving the medications will be transferred to a single U.S. District Court for coordinated pretrial proceedings. The creation of a multidistrict litigation is intended to streamline discovery and ensure greater consistency in pretrial rulings.

Bernstein Liebhard LLP is representing a number of plaintiffs in proton pump inhibitor lawsuits that would potentially be transferred to any newly-created multidistrict litigation. Our attorneys continue to offer free legal reviews to individuals who were diagnosed with serious kidney complications following treatment with Nexium or another drug in this class. To learn more, please contact our office at (888) 994-8177.

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