Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) Causing Kidney Injuries

DISCLAIMER: Please consult with your doctor before making any changes to your use of any FDA-approved drug or device.

Individuals throughout the United States have begun to pursue lawsuits against the makers of a certain class of medications known as proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs.

Plaintiffs claim that, had warnings been provided about the risks of kidney injury and kidney failure, they may have been able to avoid severe and life-threatening injuries.

There are two basic types of medications commonly prescribed to treat heartburn and acid reflux:

  • Histamine H2-receptor antagonists (also known as H2 blockers)
  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)

PPIs are used by millions of Americans and work by reducing the amount of acid in the stomach. PPIs are sold under brand names that include:

  • Nexium
  • Prilosec
  • Prevacid
  • Protonix
  • Dexilant
  • AcipHex

H2 blockers also work by decreasing the amount of acid produced by the stomach. Popular H2 blockers include:

  • Zantac
  • Pepcid
  • Tagamet
  • Tazac
  • Axid

Two recently-published PPI studies are cause for concern. JAMA Internal Medicine published a report in early 2016 which indicated that users of PPI heartburn drugs may face a 50% higher risk for kidney disease when compared to non-users.

Similarly, the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology recently published a study that compared PPI users to users of H2 blocker drugs. The study’s researchers worked with the Veterans Affairs Clinical Epidemiology Center and local universities to study patients over a five year period of time. Results indicate that PPI users are more likely to develop kidney failure or chronic kidney disease than users of other types of heartburn medication. The study also concluded that those who take PPIs for a longer period of time seem to be at greater risk to develop kidney disease.

 

Injuries Associated with PPIs:

  • Acute Interstitial Nephritis
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Renal/Kidney Failure
  • Acute Kidney Injury

What is most troubling about these new findings?

  • Many users remain on these acid reflux drugs for long periods of time, believing the medications carry little risk, when in reality they may be putting themselves at greater risk.
  • Many PPIs are now widely available over the counter, meaning they are much easier to obtain.

PPIs themselves are an example of a very great irony in pharmaceutical manufacturing: the injuries from a drug can turn out to be more debilitating than the condition the drug was meant to treat!

Drug manufacturers should not be permitted to escape their legal duty to ensure the safety of their products. Prescription drug lawsuits involve a special area of the law known as product liability. The principle on which product liability law is based is that manufacturers of defective products are liable for injuries caused by their negligence.

The obligations of manufacturers under product liability law include:

  • Testing a product’s safety before bringing it to the market
  • Continuing to test and warn of any risks after the product is already on the market

When it appears that manufacturers have failed to take ongoing responsibility for warning of risks (including those which become known after the product is already in use by consumers), plaintiffs may file legal claims for injuries caused by a harmful drug.

Lawsuits against pharmaceutical manufacturers are typically based on claims that a company:

  • Produced a dangerous drug
  • Failed to provide adequate warnings to the public about the risks of a drug
  • Knowingly hid the dangers from the public and/or the medical community
  • Marketed the drug improperly or illegally

When patients suffer medical injury due to the effects of a medication, they may be eligible for compensation. In the past, manufacturers have been held responsible for the costs of medical treatments, lost wages and pain and suffering.

In prior years, lawsuits were filed by plaintiffs who suffered bone fractures and heart attacks as a result of PPI use. The newly published research about kidney damage resulting from prolonged use of PPIs will mean that more patients will now be filing medical injury claims against the pharmaceutical manufacturers of proton pump inhibitors.

DISCLAIMER: Please consult with your doctor before making any changes to your use of any FDA-approved drug or device.