Business & Practice

Are More ‘Purple Pill’ Lawsuits Around the Corner?

Aug. 30, 2016, 6:23 PM

By Julie A. Steinberg, Bloomberg BNA

AstraZeneca’s “purple pill” Nexium caused an Illinois man’s kidney disease, according to the latest suit in what could be a new wave of litigation.

The plaintiff George Mullen sued last week in federal court in Brooklyn and accused AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP and AstraZeneca LP of failing to warn that Nexium, a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) prescribed for stomach and other digestive problems, could cause kidney damage.

Mullen alleges he developed chronic kidney disease, or gradual loss of kidney function, after taking prescription Nexium for several years.

His attorney Daniel Burke, of Bernstein Liebhard in New York, said his firm has had several hundred inquiries and is investigating the medical records of potential clients. Other firms are also investigating cases, he said.

Burke said he would anticipate an eventual multidistrict litigation, or other type of coordinated proceeding.

At least four other complaints similar to Mullen’s have already been filed in federal court including one by Steven Goodstein, a New Jersey resident.

“AstraZeneca is confident in the safety and efficacy of Nexium and intends to vigorously defend this lawsuit,” the company said in a statement.

In 2013, more than 15 million Americans used prescription PPIs, costing more than $10 billion, Mullen’s suit says.

Doctors prescribe PPIs to treat acid reflux, stomach ulcers and other conditions. The drugs work by inhibiting the secretion of stomach acid.

Hundreds of injury reports associated with Nexium and other PPIs have been submitted to the Food and Drug Administration, Mullen alleges.

But AstraZeneca didn’t inform Mullen or his doctors about this risk, according to the complaint. Instead, they continued to represent that Nexium didn’t pose any risks of kidney injuries, the suit says.

The case is Mullen v. AstraZeneca Pharm. LP, E.D.N.Y., No. 16-04801, filed Aug. 26, 2016.

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