With prescription drug manufacturer AstraZaneca facing a potential downfall in next 12 to 18 months due to lost patents from its two most popular drugs – Crestor and Nexium - the company is now facing the prospect of another huge threat; lawsuits. This is because claims have begun flooding in stemming from Nexium’s potentially harmful side effects, most notably the loss of bone density and hip fractures.
Nexium, also known as “the purple pill,” belongs to a group of drugs known as proton pump inhibitors, which is used to treat symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcers, inflammation and other symptoms related to excessive stomach acid. It functions by blocking the production of stomach acid. Nexium is not intended for the immediate relief of heartburn. Nexium is AstraZeneca’s most popular drug, accounting for over $6 billion a year in sales.
However, in March of 2011, the FDA issued a safety alert warning that proton pump inhibitors such as Nexium pose an elevated risk of hip, wrist spine and other bone fractures. This followed studies by the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), American Medical Association and British Medical Journal, among others, which indicated that drugs containing protein pump inhibitors, like Nexium, increase the risk of hip and bone fractures by as much as fifty percent. In all, six different studies linked Nexium to these dangerous side effects as early as 2006. Still, AstraZeneca refused to take any decisive action until it was forced to by the FDA in 2011.
These warnings have prompted an influx of lawsuits against AstraZeneca, claiming that the manufacturer failed to disclose dangerous information relating to the risks of bone deterioration and fractures associated with Nexium. The lawsuits contend that AstraZeneca continued to market and advertise the drug despite growing concerns about safety hazards and long term health issues, especially among woman and the elderly.
Time May Be Running Out for Some Patients of Nexium
As the manufacturer of a defective drug, AstraZeneca is strictly liable for damages suffered by users of Nexium. In other words, patients who have endured side effects most commonly associated with the drug, including hip and bone fractures may file a claim against the drug company. However, the danger lies in the fact that many individuals might be barred from filing lawsuits if they prolong filing a claim.
“Unfortunately, even when patients are experiencing some of the most egregious side effects of the drug, they might be barred from filing a lawsuit if they fail to do so in a timely manner,” says Farid Yaghoubtil, partner at Downtown L.A. Law Group, based in Los Angeles, California. “The statute of limitation differs from state to state, but patients generally have between 1 or 2 years to file a claim from the time they knew or should have known about the complications,” continues Yaghoubtil. Therefore, individuals who delay filing a claim may be left out in the dark.
This creates a secondary issue for potential future lawsuits, states Mr. Yaghoubtil’s partner, Daniel Azizi, as “once the FDA issued its FDA warning, users of Nexium were effectively put on notice, regardless of whether or not they were aware of its hazards. Mr. Azizi claims that AstraZeneca will counter these claims by arguing that patients assumed any risk involved in taking Nexium, regardless of whether they were aware of it dangers or not.
“Loss of bone density may not be immediately noticeable to users of Nexium until they have suffered some type of fracture or bone failure,” says Azizi. “They’d be best served to at least seek legal counsel before the problems reach a tipping point.”