Over the past several years, various acid reflux medications and heartburn drugs have been called into question in regards to the seriousness of their side effects. As we have seen with the Zantac recall and related injury lawsuits, Prilosec is now another medication to come into question.
What Is Prilosec?
Prilosec is a popular brand of a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medication. PPIs were developed and released on the market over 25 years ago. Initially, the drugs were only available by prescription through a doctor. As the use of Prilosec and other PPIs became more common, eventually over-the-counter drugs like Prilosec OTC were introduced .
How Does Prilosec Work?
In people who suffer from heartburn, acid reflux, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), ulcers, and other such conditions, the primary culprit is the overproduction of acid in the stomach. Prilosec and other PPIs were created to help inhibit the production of acid and stop the cause of the condition, rather than focus on the symptoms.
When someone takes Prilosec or another brand of PPI, the medication dissolves in the stomach and targets the system that is responsible for the production of stomach acid—the gastric proton pump, which is a special protein found in various membranes in the stomach.
Prilosec and other PPIs stop the production of excess stomach acid. Therefore, the associated medical condition is then eliminated as a result. However, in order for Prilosec and other PPIs to be effective, you have to take them daily.
If you stop taking Prilosec or another PPI, gradually the gastric proton pump begins to function once more. The initial condition the medication was taken for can return. Yet, continuing to use Prilosec and other PPIs can lead to some rather unpleasant side effects.
What Are the Short-Term Side Effects of Prilosec?
Prilosec and other PPIs are dissolved in the stomach by the stomach acid. From there, they move through the body until they reach the liver, where the liver continues to break down the drugs. The most common side effects pharmaceutical companies reported initially included:
- Abdominal Pain
- Sore Throat
- Stuffy Nose
Even with these side effects, Prilosec and other PPIs were approved by the FDA and put on the market. They were considered “safe,” and people put their trust in the pharmaceutical companies. Most people did not experience problems or only had minor side effects, so using Prilosec or another PPI was tolerable to help treat their acid overproduction.
What Are the Long-Term Side Effects of Prilosec?
After being approved by the FDA and sold as a prescription and over-the-counter medication, various research studies have been conducted. They have focused on the long-term effects of using Prilosec and other PPIs. The results of those studies uncovered some rather startling results and potentially serious life-threatening long-term side effects that the pharmaceutical companies failed to warn people about, including:
- Increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
- Increased risk of kidney damage.
- Development of end-stage renal failure.
- Increased risk of stomach cancer.
- Ongoing kidney inflammation and pain.
- Increased risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
- Increased risk of strokes.
- Increased risk of esophageal cancer.
- Increased risks of bone fractures.
- Development of AIN (Acute Interstitial Nephritis).
- Increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Noticeable swelling and soreness of the small and large intestines.
- Increased risk of developing hypomagnesemia.
- Increased risk of certain types of infections.
What Triggered the Lawsuit About Prilosec?
The primary legal issue with the Prilosec lawsuits is that the pharmaceutical companies failed to warn doctors and people that using PPIs could increase the risks of various conditions and lead to renal and kidney failure. Instead, even though there had been several research studies that detailed the more serious long-term side effects, the drug manufacturers opted to remain silent and not share this information with the general public.
Rather, the drug companies were too busy lining their pockets with all the profits they were earning from Prilosec and other PPIs. To make matters worse, the manufacturer of Prilosec was aware of the risks of kidney damage and related kidney problems since 1992. This same year, the American Journal of Medicine conducted a study and concluded that using Prilosec over the long term could lead to AIN, the condition that can cause kidney failure.1
Even more recent research studies have linked the long-term use of PPIs to developing chronic kidney disease. A 2017 study published by the Journal of Medical Associations (JAMA) and the Journal of American Society of Nephrologists (JASN) revealed that users of Prilosec and PPIs had an increased risk of inflammation in the spaces between the renal tubules of the kidney and developing the condition called interstitial nephritis.2
Furthermore, the research data suggested that ongoing use of Prilosec and other PPIs over a long term could potentially increase the risks of developing chronic kidney damage, kidney disease, kidney failure, and renal failure.
Sadly, numerous people have developed chronic kidney problems from using Prilosec. The damage to their kidneys has resulted in having to get dialysis to stay alive while waiting for a kidney transplant. Other people have not been so lucky and have died as a result of using Prilosec and other PPIs.
Why Were People Not Warned About the Dangers of Using Prilosec and PPIs?
The drug companies were more concerned about earning millions of dollars in profits from the sale of Prilosec and other PPIs. They downplayed the seriousness of the long-term side effects, though they were aware of the risks. They even adjusted their recommendations that people should only use PPIs for a short term, in order to avoid facing the facts.
According to one research study, when Prilosec or other PPIs are taken over a short term for less than 30 days, they do not increase the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. Yet, if PPIs were taken for more than 30 days and no more than 90 days, the risk of kidney disease doubled. People who continued to take Prilosec or other PPIs for more than 90 days saw the risks of chronic kidney disease progression and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) double.3
Even with these findings, it was too late. Prilosec and other PPIs had been marketed as drugs that people could use for as long as they wanted, to help eliminate excess stomach acid and the associated conditions.
What Does Failure to Warn Mean?
At the heart of Prilosec and PPI lawsuits is the failed responsibility of the drug companies to warn people of the potential dangers of their products. Drug manufacturers, just like other manufacturing businesses, have a responsibility to consumers to disclose potentially harmful and dangerous side effects of using their products.
By not warning doctors, pharmacies, and the general public about the harmful effects of long-term use of Prilosec and other PPIs, the pharmaceutical companies now have a legal obligation to be held accountable for their negligence and the injuries they have inflicted on countless people and families.
Since the drug companies failed to warn people, and there have been several research studies that showed the potential for increased risks of developing chronic kidney failure, bone fractures, and other serious long-term side effects, personal injury lawsuits have been growing in numbers in recent years.
What if I Took Prilosec or Another PPI?
If you have experienced kidney problems, it is highly recommended to consult with your doctor to determine the extent of the damage. You should also discontinue the use of Prilosec if you have not already. Even with the lawsuits, Prilosec OTC and Prilosec prescription strength—as well as other PPIs—are still on the market.
If your doctor discovers you have experienced some form of kidney problems or damage, your next step is to contact a law firm that specializes in consumer justice, personal injury, and harmful drugs lawsuits. Many of the Prilosec and PPI lawsuits have become multidistrict class-action lawsuits due to the number of people suing.
Depending on your particular situation, you may be able to join one of these existing lawsuits without having to file a new one. It is important to remember, there are statutes of limitations when filing personal injury lawsuits, so you need to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible.
For further information about Prilosec and PPI lawsuits and to find out if you have grounds to sue for your injuries, please feel free to contact Saunders & Walker P.A. by calling (727) 579-4500 for a free case evaluation and consultation today!
Our law firm is fighting for the rights of those harmed by Prilosec and PPIs. We have built strong cases against the pharmaceutical companies and guide our clients step by step through the entire legal process.