Plaintiffs pursuing proton pump inhibitors lawsuits for kidney failure and other renal complications have filed a second motion to centralize their claims in a single federal court. While their first attempt at centralization failed in February, this latest effort has the support of several drug company defendants.
According to a June 1st motion filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, 172 proton pump inhibitor lawsuits are currently pending in federal courts around the country. Plaintiffs involved in these cases claim that long-term treatment with the popular heartburn drugs increases the risk for chronic kidney disease, renal failure, acute interstitial nephritis, and acute kidney injury. Most of the lawsuits involve prescription and over-the counter versions of Nexium and Prilosec. However, lawsuits have also been filed over Protonix, Dexilant and PrevAcid 24-Hour.
When the JPML declined to consolidate the federal docket in February, it noted that only 15 lawsuits were pending at the time. The Panel also expressed concern about the differing medications cited in the complaints, as well as the need to protect trade secrets among the various drug company defendants. None of the defendants supported centralization at that time. According to the plaintiff’s latest motion, AstraZeneca (Nexium and Prilosec) and Pfizer (Protonix) now support the creation of a multidistrict litigation. Proctor & Gamble (Nexium 24 Hour, Prilosec OTC) has indicated that it would not oppose centralization.
Plaintiffs have suggested that the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, would be an appropriate venue for the federal proton pump inhibitor litigation, as judges within the jurisdiction have “substantial experience presiding over complex litigation.
“Further, as noted above, the vast majority of Plaintiffs support the formation of an MDL and the District of New Jersey as a venue,” their motion argues. “Indeed, 61 of the 172 cases have been filed in the District of New Jersey.”
The JPML is scheduled to hear Oral Arguments on the plaintiffs’ motion during its July 27th Hearing Session in Los Angeles, California. If the panel rules in their favor, all federally-filed proton pump inhibitor lawsuits that involve kidney injuries will be transferred to a single U.S. District Court Judge for coordinated discovery and other pretrial proceedings.
Centralization is intended to improve judicial efficiency in large, complex litigations that involve common questions of fact. The multidistrict litigation process conserves judicial resources, avoids duplicative discovery and fosters more consistent court rulings across multiple lawsuits that pose similar legal issues.