Nearly 200 proton pump inhibitor lawsuits have been centralized in a multi-district litigation in the US District Court of New Jersey.
By Laurence Banville
More than 160 lawsuits filed over the link between popular heartburn drugs and kidney injuries have been transferred to the US District Court of New Jersey for consolidated pre-trial proceedings, the New Jersey Law Journal. In an opinion issued on August 2, 2017, a panel of federal judges sent the growing litigation around proton pump inhibitor drugs to Newark, where claims old and new will proceed through discovery and motion practice as a group.
PPI Lawsuits Allege Kidney InjuriesThe lawsuits have been filed in relation to a class of drugs, proton pump inhibitors, commonly prescribed for medical conditions caused by excessive stomach acid, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid are the major players in this space, but lesser-known drugs like Dexilant have also been pulled into the litigation.
In their lawsuits, patients say that these drugs can cause severe kidney disorders:
- chronic kidney disease
- acute interstitial nephritis
- end stage renal disease
- kidney failure
JPML Reverses Position On ConsolidationSix months ago, the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation rejected a similar petition for consolidation. In the intervening months, however, the number of filed cases has grown by leaps and bounds, involving an ever wider range of jurisdictions and attorneys. Sending all of these lawsuits to a single federal court, the panel reasoned, would make things far more efficient. It appears that several defendant's were swayed by this line of thinking, too.
The Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation is usually hesitant to consolidate litigations that involve multiple large corporate defendants, choosing instead to allow these disparate interests to fight out their own disputes in isolation. The growing proton pump inhibitor litigation has currently drawn five major pharmaceutical manufacturers into the courtroom: AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Takeda and Novartis, along with numerous subsidiaries of these companies.
Pfizer, AstraZeneca Support CentralizationSix months ago, none of these defendants thought consolidation was necessary or desirable. Today, the situation has changed somewhat. In more recent court filings, AstraZeneca and Pfizer both support centralizing the litigation, with the US District of New Jersey cited as a suitable jurisdiction. While Procter & Gamble, Takeda and Novartis continue to oppose the idea, the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation has chosen to disregard their concerns.
The Honorable Claire C. Cecchi has been selected to preside over the multi-district litigation, which has been dubbed In Re: Proton-Pump Inhibitor Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2789.