Prilosec is a treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease that is intended to act as a protein pump inhibitor. It is in the same class of drugs as Nexium with minor differences between the two medications. Both the prescription and over-the-counter versions have achieved a dominant position in the marketplace due to an omnipresent marketing campaign. Nearly everyone sees frequent advertisements for drugs in this class. However, there have been some serious side effects associated with long-term usage of this drug. Specifically, there have been reports of kidney failure and various types of cancer that are associated with the drug. Procter & Gamble and Astra Zeneca, the manufacturers of the drug, face thousands of product liability lawsuits seeking compensation for the harm that patients have allegedly suffered due to these drugs. If you or a loved one have taken Prilosec and have been injured by a side effect from the drug, you should seek out a Prilosec lawsuit lawyer immediately.
What is Prilosec?
The parietal cells are located in the stomach. These cells are located in the gastric glands that are found in the lining of the stomach. The parietal cells are responsible for the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. The benefit of stomach acid are that it can kill harmful bacteria in foods and it can neutralize certain harmful enzymes. However, when there is excess production of acid, it can cause reflux that can lead to heartburn and acid reflux.
A proton pump inhibitor will block the enzymes in the parietal cells that produce the acid. Specifically, the H+/K+ ATPase enzyme is found in the parietal cells and is responsible for the production of this acid. This will result in lower acid production in the stomach, which will reduce heartburn. Ultimately, this will change the pH level in the intestines. There are two primary types of proton pump inhibitors. Nexium, which is the other major selling proton pump inhibitor, relies on two isomers of the drug omeprazole. Prilosec relies on only one isomer. This means that it will generally exit the body quicker, require either a higher dosage or more frequent medication.
History of Prilosec and its Market
Prilosec was first approved by the FDA as a prescription medication in 1989. It immediately became a blockbuster drug and has been hugely profitable for its makers ever since. After over 25 years as a prescription-only medication, Prilosec was approved as an over-the-counter medication in 2015. There is still a prescription strength drug that is available.
Even before the OTC version was approved, there were over 15 million prescriptions written for Prilosec and Nexium combined in 2013. The total size of the global market for omeprazole medications, of which Prilosec is one, exceeds $11 billion. The growth in the market results from the fact that the number of people suffering from acid reflux is increasing globally. At the same time, there has been evidence that this class of drug has been over-prescribed to those individuals who not necessarily need it.
Side Effects of Prilosec
The common side effects of Prilosec include headache, diarrhea and nausea. Many users of the drug have reported side effects that are more severe than the common ones. While Prilosec may help with containing heartburn, it has the potential to cause a host of other side effects. Proton pumps are found in areas of the body other than the stomach. As such, they perform functions that are valuable to other bodily functions. However, Prilosec’s effect on the proton pump is not limited to the ones found in the stomach lining. Therefore, several important processes may also be interrupted by a proton pump inhibitor.
In addition, stomach acid also performs a valuable role in the body by combatting harmful bacteria that can cause illness. When the acid is reduced too much, it may leave the body vulnerable to various conditions that can be caused by the enzymes that can now flourish. In addition, protein pump inhibitors will impair nutrient absorption in the body because that is another area that is aided by stomach acids. In other words, Prilosec may be too effective for its own good because it will impact many things other than just acid reflux. There are several more severe side effects of Prilosec. One of the side effects is an increased risk of cardiovascular events. This happens because Prilosec can impede the production of nitric oxide, which has been shown to help blood flow in the body. When the blood cannot freely flow, it will damage the heart.
In addition, Prilosec may impact the function of the kidneys
This is manifested in both short-term and long-term damage to renal function. While there is no concrete proof of how Prilosec can cause renal damage, it likely proceeds from the same general theory as the reason why it can lead to heart damage. In other words, Prilosec can also impede valuable substances that the body needs to perform its normal function. Here, the substance could be magnesium, which is needed for normal kidney function. In specific, there was a 2016 study which found that use of protein pump inhibitors increased the incidence of renal failure by up to 50 percent. This study analyzed thousands of recipients over a 12-year period.
Finally, Prilosec has been tied to stomach cancer by some researchers. As stated above, Prilosec reduces the amount of stomach acid that is needed to fight bacteria. One such acid, h. pylori, has been tied to stomach acid. The risk becomes more pronounced when usage of Prilosec is long-term. While the risk of stomach cancer is not great, it is more than statistically insignificant.
Prilosec lawsuits Against Procter & Gamble and Astra Zeneca
There have been thousands of lawsuits filed against not only the manufacturers of Prilosec, but also the makers of other protein pump inhibitors. The most prevalent Prilosec lawsuits are the ones alleging that Prilosec caused kidney damage.
In 2017, these lawsuits were given multi-district status and moved to federal court in New Jersey. Multi-district litigation means that the cases, while still separate, are subject to common pre-trial evidentiary and discovery rulings. In addition, several bellwether cases are selected to be tried first to give both parties an idea of the viability of the suits. These lawsuits argue that the manufacturers of proton pump inhibitors knew as far back as 1992 that the drugs could have a negative impact on renal function. The complaint cites studies dating back decades that have this finding. According to the plaintiffs, the manufacturers did not act on this information and did not include this on the warning label until required by the FDA.
The cases are currently in the pre-trial phase. There have been over 4,000 lawsuits filed against manufacturers of protein pump inhibitors. The bellwether cases are set to go to trial in September 2020. Due to the sheer number of people that have used these drugs, the number of lawsuits is growing.
What to Do If You Have Been Injured by Prilosec
If you or a loved one has taken Prilosec and have suffered any harm, including kidney failure, heart attacks or cancer, it is vital that you immediately contact a Prilosex lawsuit attorney who specializes in holding drug makers accountable for the effects of defective drugs. The Prilosec lawsuit attorney can advise you as to the chances of success for your claim and the process that needs to be followed in order for you to receive financial compensation. The consultation with the Prilosec lawyer is free and you owe nothing unless you are able to achieve a financial recovery.