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Learn More About Heartburn Medication Claims

 
Summary

Nexium and Prilosec belong to a group of heartburn relief drugs known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Both are manufactured by AstraZeneca. Prilosec was approved by the Food and Drug Association (FDA) in 1989, and 15 years later -- just as Prilosec’s drug patent was expiring -- Nexium was approved. While the two are similar in their chemical makeup and the way they work, Prilosec is sold over-the-counter at one seventh the cost of the prescription-only pill, Nexium.

Prilosec’s main active ingredient (omeprazole magnesium) and Nexium’s main active ingredient (esomeprazole magnesium) are virtually identical. Both decrease gastric acids in the stomach. Nexium is currently approved for adults only while Prilosec is approved for adults and children as young as age one.

In 2000, when Prilosec was sold as a prescription drug, its revenues were a record $6-billion a year -- making it the world’s top-selling drug. But when Prilosec’s drug patent expired, its manufacturer had a cousin pill named Nexium, waiting to replace it. AstraZeneca denies that the two drugs are identical, claiming that Nexium is even better than Prilosec at treating persistent heartburn and acid reflux disease. If you were tricked into spending more on similar drugs, a pharmaceutical attorney, drug defect lawyer, or medical malpractice attorney will be able to help receive financial reimbursement.

In 2005, a year after its launch, Nexium  became the worlds best selling heartburn pill, with revenues exceeding $4.6 billion.

Consumers can easily assume that Nexium – which is sold only by prescription and costs more than Prilosec -- is the superior drug. That deliberate advertising misperception is the reason why the consumer watchdog group Public Citizen listed Nexium on its Worst Pills list. To receive the money that you unnecessarily spent on Nexium call a pharmaceutical lawyer, medical malpractice attorney, or drug defect lawyer. 

In 2004, a suit seeking class action status alleged that AstraZeneca fraudulently misled and conspired to convince consumers to switch to the more expensive Nexium. However, the judge was not convinced and dismissed the case in December, 2005. An appeal was also dismissed in 2007.

After the failure of their class action, consumers regrouped to urge Congress to take up  the issue of ‘preemption’ (a legal situation when Federal law displaces state law) before renewing the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA V). The current law gives states the right to pursue false or misleading prescription drug advertising.

While proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) do decrease the amount of acid in the stomach, studies show that when taken for long periods of time, they may cause an increase in bone fractures and osteoporosis. A British study which analyzed 145,000 different users of PPIs found that prolonged use of Nexium increased hip fractures in individuals aged 50 and older. Patients using a PPI for more than a year were two-and-a-half times more likely to suffer hip fracture than nonusers.

Because Prilosec and Nexium block the stomach enzyme that produces gastroesophageal reflux disease, it becomes more difficult for the body to absorb nutrients such as calcium. This in turn can lead to weakened bones and fractures. The data – which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on December 26, 2006 -- concluded that PPIs could increase the risk of hip fractures in heartburn users as much as 260 percent.

Despite these significant findings, Prilosec and Nexium do not appear to be in danger of being recalled from the market. 

In December, 2007, U.S. regulators announced that they had cleared Prilosec and Nexium of a suspected link to heart problems, but agreed that they did pose a potential risk of hip fractures. Contact a personal injury lawyer or pharmaceutical attorney to seek assistance in legal claims.

In April, 2008, the FDA approved Nexium for short term use in children aged one to eleven years old for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The FDA lists adverse reactions to Nexium in children as headache, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, gas, constipation, dry mouth and sleepiness.

Who Can Sue

If you have experienced a bone fracture, hip problems or the onset of osteoporosis due to taking Nexium, Prilosec or another PPI, you should contact a qualified drug defect lawyer or heartburn medication attorney to see if you are eligible for compensation.

Sometimes drug companies are negligent and do not fully inform doctors and patients about the side effects of their drugs. AstraZeneca may be required to compensate individuals who suffered hip fractures while on Nexium or Prilosec and were not informed of the risk when they began taking these pills. A medical malpractice attorney should be called in this instance.

Although class-action consumer lawsuits brought against AstraZeneca in November 2004 in California and in January of 2005 in Massachusetts were ultimately dismissed, that should not stop individuals who have been damaged by using either Nexium or Prilosec from successfully pursuing their own individual suits. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of taking Nexium or Prilosec protect your legal rights by contacting a pharmaceutical attorney who can inform you of your legal rights.

Interesting Facts

After being convinced that Prilosec equaled Nexium in performance -- but at one seventh the cost --  the Pentagon announced they would be dropping their future troop requisitions for Nexium in favor of  Prilosec, or one the other generic heartburn medicines.

The March 2008 issue of Worst Pills Best Pills newsletter noted that business is booming in the heartburn market. In “2006 alone there were 70 million prescriptions filled for PPIs with sales totaling $10.5 billion” dollars, they wrote.

The side effects of PPIs such as Prilosec and Nexium are:
  • Head ache
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dizziness
  • Osteoporosis
  • Dizziness
  • Allergic reactions
  • Dry mouth
Potential Recovery

There are no Prilosec or Nexium legal settlements to report.

News

FDA Approves Prescription Proton Pump Inhibitor Drug for 1-11 Year Olds

AstraZeneca sued over Nexium

Prilosec, Nexium don't elevate risk of heart trouble, FDA says

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