HOUSTON - Thirty-four people, most of them women, say AstraZeneca's heartburn drug Nexium causes "severe bone deterioration and unexpected bone fractures." They say Nexium prevents calcium absorption, "which causes bone deterioration, decreases in bone density and eventual fractures."
"Nexium is a prescription-strength pump inhibitor ('PPI') used for the treatment of heartburn, acid reflux, ulcers and inflammation of the esophagus, which works by reducing acid in the stomach," according to the complaint in Harris County Court. "Nexium also, however, prevents calcium absorption which causes bone deterioration, decreases in bone density and eventual fractures."
Plaintiff Natalie Stempfer, 50, started taking Nexium daily in 2006. "In June 2010, while simply walking, Stempfer experienced severe pain in her foot," she says. "Her podiatrist diagnosed Stempfer with a fracture of the lateral cuneiform and stated it's one of the 'most difficult bones to break.'"
The Food and Drug Administration issued an alert on March 22 this year, stating that use of PPIs, including Nexium, bring increased risk of fractures.
In May 2010, the FDA required that PPI manufacturers include safety information about the increased risk of osteoporosis from using their products in May 2010.
As early as 2006 studies found that use of PPIs significantly increase the risk of fractures for patients older than 50, according to the complaint. "Specifically, use of PPIs increases the risk of fractures of women up to 34 percent," the complaint states.
Most plaintiffs in this complaint are women ranging in age from 30 to their mid-60s. However, one male plaintiff, 9-year-old Cole Williams, suffered a severe fracture in his right hand after taking Nexium for a year and a half.
All of the plaintiffs say they suffered bone deterioration or broken bones from using Nexium.
They seek damages from AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals and Ghadeer Rafeedie, an AstraZeneca district manager and sales executive for the Houston region during the time they were prescribed Nexium. They allege negligence, negligent misrepresentation, fraud and product defects.They are represented by Jason Gibson.