AstraZeneca ponies up $425M to settle US lawsuits over Nexium, Prilosec

Four months after GSK settled a key case in California over its heartburn medication Zantac, AstraZeneca is following suit, agreeing to resolve personal injury claims over its heartburn drugs Nexium and Prilosec.

AZ will pay £352 million pounds sterling ($425 million) to settle roughly 11,000 lawsuits in New Jersey and Delaware, mostly from users who claimed the drugs caused damage to their kidneys, including chronic kidney disease, and that the company failed to warn of the risks associated with their use.

“AstraZeneca continues to believe these claims are without merit and admits no wrongdoing in the settlement agreement,” the company said in a release, adding that the deal allows it to “avoid continued costly litigation.”

The deal resolves all Nexium and Prilosec claims in the U.S. except for one in Louisiana which is set to go to trial in April, the company said.

Nexium and Prilosec are from the proton pump inhibitor (PPI) class of drugs, which limit the production of acid in the stomach.

This is not the first time makers of PPIs have faced litigation. GSK, Pfizer and Procter & Gamble have paid a combined $108 million to settle claims against their PPI treatments, according to a Tuesday statement from lawyers representing plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation.

“These settlements not only ensure victims receive just compensation for their pain and suffering but also stand as a testament to the importance of holding pharmaceutical companies accountable for failing to warn patients and doctors about the health risks associated with their products," Chris Seeger of Seeger Weiss LLP, said in the release.

Takeda also faces claims against its PPI drugs Prevacid and Dexilant.

Prilosec was approved by the FDA in 1989, with its follow-on Nexium entering the market 12 years later. At its peak from 2006 to 2008, sales of Nexium exceeded $5 billion annually.

Teva gained approval of a generic version of the treatment in 2015, but AZ still recorded $1.3 billion in Nexium sales in 2022.

Nexium is available by prescription to treat ulcers and stomach duodenum and over-the-counter in smaller doses for heartburn.

In June, GSK settled a lawsuit in California over its heartburn drug Zantac for an undisclosed sum. The case was set to be an opener for thousands of other statewide claims before it was resolved.