Patients have filed lawsuits across the country alleging the popular heartburn medication Nexium caused significant kidney injuries. The growing number of claims gave rise to a motion to consolidate the claims in a multidistrict litigation (MDL). The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) gave Nexium plaintiffs an extended deadline to file responses regarding whether they are for are against the creation of a Nexium MDL.

Forming an MDL has a few distinct advantages for plaintiffs – the process is more efficient and helps plaintiffs achieve resolution more quickly than if each lawsuit was filed separately. The JPML gave Nexium plaintiffs until November 17, 2016 to submit their responses. Supporters of the creation of an MDL proposed the Middle District of Louisiana as a potential venue.

What Is Nexium?

Nexium is a medication that treats heartburn and acid reflux by reducing the amount of acid in the stomach. Over time, heartburn can cause permanent damage to the lining of the esophagus. Nexium is most commonly prescribed to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which occurs when a weakness in a muscle between the esophagus and stomach causes stomach acid to rise up into the esophagus.

According to the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases, approximately 20% of Americans suffer from GERD. Nearly 15 million Americans take medications like Nexium to treat GERD and other heartburn related symptoms.

Despite the drug’s widespread use, a study published in the Journal Of The American Medical Association (JAMA) in February 2016 found Nexium might be linked to chronic kidney disease and kidney failure. Other studies found patients taking Nexium have a 28% higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease is the gradual loss of kidney function over time, and can cause permanent damage requiring dialysis and/or even a complete kidney transplant.