After decades of evidence linking the heartburn drug Nexium with nephritis (kidney inflammation), drug-makers added stronger warning labels in December 2014.
Need a Texas Nexium Lawyer? Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged. If you or a loved one was diagnosed with nephritis, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit.
Nexium and Nephritis
Nephritis is a rare but serious hypersensitivity reaction that was first linked to Nexium in 1992. In 2004, AstraZeneca said it was aware of 15 cases of nephritis linked to Nexium worldwide. Since then, dozens of cases have been reported. In 2005, researchers published two case reports, including one 63 year-old victim who required long-term dialysis.
FDA Updates Label on Nexium
Despite evidence linking Nexium and nephritis dating back to the 1990s, it was not until December 2014 that the FDA updated the label on Nexium to include nephritis. According to the FDA, nephritis can occur at any time in patients who are taking Nexium.
What is Acute Interstitial Nephritis?
Acute interstitial nephritis involves sudden swelling and inflammation in the kidneys due to an allergic reaction. About half of people with nephritis develop symptoms of kidney failure. Nephritis is responsible for about 15% of people who are hospitalized with kidney failure
Symptoms of Nephritis
The early symptoms of Nexium-induced nephritis are usually non-specific, often mimicking the symptoms of indigestion for which the medication was initially prescribed.
As nephritis progresses, the symptoms are essentially the same as symptoms of kidney failure. Kidney function rapidly deteriorates and patients experience edema (swelling) due to fluid retention. About two-thirds of patients have fever, rash, and joint pain.
Other symptoms of nephritis may include:
- Low urine output
- Blood in urine
- Feeling generally sick
- Lack of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight-gain from excess fluid
- Drowsiness, confusion, or coma
Diagnosis & Treatment
The only definitive way to diagnose nephritis is with a biopsy (tissue sample) collected from the kidneys. However, biopsy may not be necessary in mild cases or when patients improve after discontinuing Nexium. An ultrasound may show that the kidneys are enlarged.
Patients who develop nephritis from Nexium should stop taking the medication. As long as Nexium is discontinued within two weeks of the onset of nephritis, most patients will recover near-normal kidney function within a few weeks. However, delayed diagnosis can lead to kidney failure. Patients often need to be hospitalized, where they will receive anti-inflammatory medications to stop the allergic reaction. They may also need dialysis to clean the blood.
Permanent Kidney Dysfunction is “Common” Complication
One study of patients with nephritis found two phases of recovery — rapid improvement for 6-8 weeks followed by slower improvement lasting approximately one year. However, researchers warned that “permanent impairment of renal function is rather common in the disease.”
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