As we previously reported, six federal-court Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Consolidation and Transfer in October requesting that the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidate 15 proton pump inhibitor (PPI) cases filed in 12 federal district courts. A multidistrict Litigation (MDL) transfers all cases pending in federal court to a single venue for consolidated pre-trial discovery. The JPML heard oral arguments from the Plaintiffs, as well as from Defendants AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP, Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., Pfizer Inc., and Procter & Gamble Co. Jan. 26, 2017. Plaintiffs argued for a single MDL to avoid inconsistent rulings and because many Plaintiffs have used multiple PPI medications manufactured by different companies. Additionally, much of the research is not brand-specific, so a single MDL could also prevent duplicative Daubert hearings.
The seven-member JPML panel raised several concerns with the Plaintiffs’ approach. The panel felt consolidating cases involving Defendants that are competitors in the marketplace could lead to the inadvertent disclosure of trade secrets during discovery. The panel was also concerned about bogging the MDL court down with Daubert hearings on the admissibility of scientific expert witness testimony for each individual product. At one point during oral arguments, U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance stated, “It just seems to be to be nightmarishly complex.” Ultimately, the JPML agreed and declined to create a PPI MDL.
Despite the denial, Plaintiffs continue to file lawsuits alleging that PPI medications caused them to develop kidney disease. Thus far, more than 100 cases have been filed, with law firms, including our firm, currently investigating thousands more. With an estimated 15 million Americans depending on these medicines for relief from acid reflux, those numbers will likely continue to grow. PPIs are a group of drugs that block the production of gastric acid. Among the most-used PPIs are Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium.
Beginning in the 1990s, studies have linked PPIs to a type of kidney disease called Acute Interstitial Nephritis (AIN). This is a condition where the spaces between the tubules of the kidney cells become inflamed. Later studies have suggested that PPI users are also at an increased risk of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).
Research linking PPIs to kidney disease continues to grow. In February 2017, a five-year study was published in the journal Kidney International, which found that PPI users were at a higher risk for CKD and acute kidney injury than users of H2 blockers like Zantac or Pepcid.
Lawyers in our firm’s Mass Torts Section are currently investigating cases involving PPI use and Acute Interstitial Nephritis (AIN), Acute Kidney Injury (AKI or Acute Renal Failure), and Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). If you would like more information, contact Roger Smith or Liz Eiland, lawyers in the Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Roger.Smith@beasleyallen.com or Liz.Eiland@beasleyallen.com.
Sources: Law360.com and CBS News
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