Millions of Americans take a prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) proton pump inhibitor (PPI). PPIs are intended for the short-term treatment of ulcers, heartburn, and other health issues caused by too much stomach acid. Many studies have revealed that using a PPI can do a lot of damage to your kidneys. Thousands of PPI users have sued drug companies after developing kidney problems.
As it turns out, kidney damage isn’t the only thing you have to worry about when taking a proton pump inhibitor. New research shows that you’re 82 percent more likely to develop pneumonia while taking a PPI. Pneumonia can be devastating, particularly in the elderly. Drug companies should be prepared to defend a new batch of PPI injury lawsuits, this time brought by patients who’ve developed or lost someone because of pneumonia.
How Do PPIs Cause Pneumonia?
Proton pump inhibitors are used to treat conditions related to excess stomach acid. When you take a PPI, the drug stops the stomach from secreting gastric acid. This gives the body time to heal. However, PPIs should only be used for a very short period of time. Gastric acid plays a critical role in the body.
Gastric acid helps to defend the body against dangerous bacteria that are ingested. When you’re taking a PPI, there’s little-to-no acid in the stomach to kill the harmful bacteria. As a result, it’s able to do a lot of damage. It can travel throughout the body and eventually reach the lungs.
Pneumonia occurs when one or both lungs become infected. Viruses, fungi, or in this particular situation, bacteria, inflames the air sacs in the lungs. Those air sacs can become filled with fluid or pus, making it incredibly difficult to breathe. Symptoms of pneumonia include coughing, difficulty breathing, fever, and chills.
Pneumonia is particularly dangerous in people who have a suppressed or weakened immune system, such as the elderly.
Drug Companies Haven’t Warned Consumers About Health Risks of PPIs
Thousands of people sued the makers of Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium and other PPIs for failing to disclose known health risks. Injured PPI users argue that the companies knew PPIs could cause serious health issues, but didn’t issue a proper warning. Instead, drug companies poured billions of dollars into marketing their popular heartburn drugs.
In doing so, patients were robbed of the right to make informed decisions about their health and treatment. Now they’re struggling with painful and emotionally devastating injuries. Some have already died, and some will probably not be able to survive for much longer. PPI users and their families are suffering. Lawsuits are simply demanding compensation for the avoidable harm drug companies have caused.
Product Liability Laws Protect Injured Patients and Consumers
AstraZeneca and other pharmaceutical companies have to get FDA approval before they can sell or market a drug. However, the FDA can only provide so much oversight. Drug companies are largely responsible for making sure the drugs they sell are safe. In order to protect consumers and encourage drug companies to make safe products, states have implemented product liability laws.
Product liability laws protect consumers who are injured because of a dangerous or defective product. In California, drug companies can be strictly liable if they design, manufacture, sell, or advertise a defective product. Consumers can demand compensation if a drug company knew, or should have known, about health risks associated with its product but failed to provide a warning.