Although they are among the most potent and popular drugs available for treating gastric acid disorders, many people taking proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) have filed law suits due to their extensive complications. Their effects can be permanent, as they block acid secretion into the stomach directly at the site of secretion, and their effects can be profound. In fact, compared to other classes of drugs that perform the same task, they are up to 99% more efficacious. However, the research on PPIs is incomplete, particularly in regards to long-term use of the medication. This is why doctors are reluctant to prescribe PPIs for more than short-term use, and why the FDA recommends that patients not be given more than three 14-day treatments during a single year. Unfortunately, even with these precautions, serious adverse effects have been connected to PPI use.
WHY ARE PATIENTS WHO ARE TAKING PROTON PUMP INHIBITORS FILING LAW SUITS AGAINST THEIR MANUFACTURERS?
Patients have used PPIs for decades, and in general, they are tolerated well, at least for short-term use. However, several peer-reviewed studies published in 2016 are starting to cast doubt on just how safe PPIs are, and there is a growing belief that drug manufacturers were aware of these complications before they were discovered by researchers.
Perhaps the most concerning finding is that patients using PPIs are approximately 95% more likely to develop Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) or End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). This finding was published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology in 2016. Both CKD and ESRD have major effects on the patient’s quality of life, are linked to increased mortality and cancer incidences, and are extremely expensive conditions to treat.
According to the Pharmaceutical Journal in 2016, patients using PPIs were 44% more likely to develop dementia, a financially, physically, and emotionally devastating mental condition. The estimated cost of treating dementia over a five-year span is about $290,000, of which only half is covered by Medicare.
PPIs have also been linked to a higher risk of heart attack and bone fractures as well, according to studies published in 2012 and 2015.
WHAT PROTON PUMP INHIBITORS ARE PART OF LAW SUITS AIMED AT MANUFACTURERS?
AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical manufacturer responsible for the two most popular PPIs, Nexium and Prilosec, is receiving the brunt of legal action against PPIs. AstraZeneca is no stranger to law suits, as it has been caught engaging in unethical practices several times in the past.
In 2015, for example, AstraZeneca paid off Teva Pharmaceuticals to delay their release of a generic version of Nexium, so the company could continue raking in large profits from the drug. Both companies paid large settlements out as a punitive measure.
Also in 2015, AstraZeneca was found responsible for “evergreening” Prilosec. This means that even though Prilosec was marketed and priced as a new drug, it was nearly identical in composition to Nexium. One lawsuit regarding Prilosec has already resulted in a rather large judgement, and there are more awaiting a decision.
It’s no surprise, then, that AstraZeneca is believed to have known the adverse effects linked to its PPIs before they went public. It is likely that this will result in more action against the company, and more large judgments against them in the future.