The use of proton pump inhibitors – including Prevacid (lansoprazole), Prilosec (omeprazole), Protonix (pantoprazole), and Nexium (esomeprazole) – has been linked to an increased risk of kidney damage, kidney failure, and other serious side effects.
Patients who have been diagnosed with kidney problems after using PPIs may be eligible to file a lawsuit and receive compensation for their injuries.
➢ What are proton pump inhibitors?
Proton pump inhibitors – also known as PPIs – are a class of prescription and over-the-counter medications designed to treat heartburn, acid reflux, ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and other stomach conditions caused by too much stomach acid.
The stomach contains a mechanism known as the proton pump, which is responsible for producing stomach acid. PPIs work by blocking the activity of an enzyme in the proton pump, which reduces the amount of acid produced by the stomach.
Originally, PPI medications such as Prevacid, Prilosec, Protonix, and Nexium were sold only as prescription drugs. Today, these medications are available in over-the-counter formulations, as well as generic prescription versions.
➢ What are the side effects of PPIs?
Although they are among the most widely prescribed medications in the U.S., researchers have linked PPIs to an increased risk of serious and potentially deadly side effects.
One of the most dangerous side effects linked to the use of PPI medications is kidney disease. Studies have shown that long-term PPI users are more likely than patients taking H2 blockers (another class of heartburn medications) to develop problems with their kidneys, including kidney damage and kidney failure.
Other side effects that have been linked to the use of PPIs include an increased risk of fractures, increased pneumonia risk, an increased risk of Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infections, iron and Vitamin B12 deficiency, and interactions with some other prescription drugs.
➢ What is the evidence linking PPIs and kidney damage?
Over the past few years, several studies have confirmed that chronic PPI users may face an increased risk of developing kidney damage.
A massive study published in 2018 found that long-term users of PPIs face an increased risk of developing acute kidney injury (AKI) and chronic kidney disease (CKD). A follow-up study found that PPI users were 22% more likely to develop kidney injuries or kidney disease than patients taking H2 blockers.
Several recent studies have also found that these heartburn drugs can lead to a condition known as acute interstitial nephritis (AIN), which causes swelling inside of the kidneys. Although patients can be treated without permanent damage to their kidneys if the condition is caught early, AIN can cause serious health problems and permanent kidney damage if left untreated.
In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration required the manufacturers of PPIs like Nexium, Prevacid, and Prilosec to add a warning about the risk of AIN and other kidney problems linked to these medications. Although the agency warned that AIN could develop “at any point during PPI therapy,” the FDA did not add a black box warning or issue a recall notices as a result of the risk of kidney damage associated with PPIs
➢ What is the link between PPIs and kidney failure?
In some cases, the kidney damage caused by PPIs can be very serious. In 2019, researchers at the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences published a study which found that PPI users were 20% more likely to develop chronic kidney disease (CKD) and four times more likely to develop acute kidney injury (AKI) than non-users.
If left untreated, these problems can lead to kidney failure in some patients. Kidney failure (also known as “renal failure”) occurs when the kidneys can no longer effectively remove waste products from the body. Patients who develop kidney failure may need dialysis or a kidney transplant in order to keep them alive.
Even more troubling is the fact that many of these patients show no signs of kidney problems before the onset of renal failure. According to a 2017 study by scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine, the kidney problems caused by PPIs “can develop silently and gradually over time, eroding kidney function and leading to long-term kidney damage or even renal failure.” The study found that more than 50% of PPI users who developed kidney failure or chronic kidney disease showed no symptoms before they were diagnosed.
➢ Have any lawsuits been filed over the link between PPIs and kidney problems?
Thousands of patients who developed kidney damage, acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease, acute interstitial nephritis, or kidney failure after taking PPIs have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers of these drugs.
These lawsuits allege that although the FDA required drugmakers that sell PPIs to issue a warning about the kidney risks associated with these medications in 2014, the drug companies knew about the risk of kidney problems associated with PPIs much earlier. Despite this information, the lawsuits allege that these drug companies failed to properly warn patients about the risk of kidney damage or kidney failure that they may face from using PPIs.
More than 13,500 lawsuits against PPI manufacturers have been filed in the U.S. by patients who allege that they developed kidney problems after using these medications. In addition to the lawsuits filed by individuals in state and federal courts over kidney problems linked to PPIs, several lawsuits seeking class action status have also been filed against the manufacturers of these drugs.
➢ Do I qualify to file a lawsuit?
If you or a loved one used PPIs like Prevacid, Prilosec, Protonix, or Nexium and were diagnosed with kidney failure or kidney disease, you may qualify to take legal action. The first step in filing a PPI lawsuit is to speak with an experienced pharmaceutical liability attorney, who can advise you regarding your legal rights.
For more information about filing a PPI claim and to find out whether you may be eligible to take legal action, contact the law firm of Hissey Mulderig & Friend for a free legal consultation. You can reach us by calling our attorneys toll-free at 1-866-806-8117, or by filling out the free case evaluation form on the right side of this page.