June 1, 2011 – A new lawsuit has been filed against AstraZeneca on behalf of 35 Texas residents who claim to have suffered from unexpected bone fractures and deterioration after using Nexium, the company’s best-selling heartburn medication. According to the claim, Nexium caused various injuries including fractures of the foot, ankle, leg, arm, hand, knee and vertebrae. Since 2006, studies have suggested that Nexium may block the body’s ability to absorb calcium, which speeds up bone loss and leads to an increased number of fractures.
What’s the problem?
The new Nexium lawsuit was filed last week in Harris County District Court against pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and a Houston-area sales manager, claiming that despite having knowledge of the side effects associated with the drug, Nexium was marketed and sold to the public without adequate warnings for consumers. The complaint was filed on behalf of 34 women and one nine-year-old boy who experienced adverse side effects after taking the heartburn medication.
Included in the complaint are reports of foot, ankle, leg, arm, hand, knee and vertebrae fractures. A number of the plaintiffs suffered these injuries with no external trauma, resulting in surgery or permanent disability in many cases. Additionally, bone density scans revealed extensive bone deterioration and osteoporosis in many of the plaintiffs, despite having no family history of the conditions.
First approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 2001, Nexium is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) drug designed to decrease the amount of acid in the stomach. The drug is most often prescribed to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), but is also commonly used to treat other conditions involving excessive stomach acid. Nexium is AstraZeneca’s best selling drug, as well as the third best selling medication in the world with over $5 billion in sales in 2008 alone.
FDA Warning on Nexium
In May 2010, the FDA issued a press release warning of the increased risk of bone fractures from Nexium and other PPI drugs including Aciphex, Prevacid, Prilosec, Protonix, Vimovo and Zegerid. In the announcement, the administration said that it was requiring an update to the warning labels of these medications reflecting the new information about bone fracture risks. Then in March 2011, the FDA again updated its Nexium bone fracture warning, stating that the side effects were associated with high doses of the drugs over a long period of time.