Many people have experienced a painful burning sensation in their chest, known as heartburn. Heartburn results when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus and is often accompanied by indigestion. This burning sensation occurs most frequently in the evening or when lying down.
In most cases, occasional heartburn is not a cause for concern. People who experience occasional heartburn can typically manage their symptoms with diet and lifestyle modifications or over-the-counter medications if the burning becomes too uncomfortable.
In some cases, people who experience recurrent heartburn may need a prescription drug from a doctor to treat frequent heartburn and related conditions.
In recent years, several heartburn medications have come under scrutiny and are now believed to cause serious injury and possibly death in some instances. If you or someone you know has been injured by a heartburn medication, you may be entitled to receive compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit. A Birmingham personal injury lawyer can advise you of your legal options.
What are proton pump inhibitors?
Many over-the-counter and prescription heartburn drugs are classified as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Proton pump inhibitors alleviate heartburn by reducing the stomach’s production of gastric acid.
In addition to treating heartburn, PPIs have also been prescribed to treat:
- Barrett’s Esophagus
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
- Peptic Ulcer Disease
- Tumors in the pancreas
- Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome
Short-term effects of taking PPIs
In response to studies that have uncovered harmful short-term and long-term effects of taking PPIs, the FDA recommends limiting this class of drugs to no more than 3 courses of 14-day treatments within 1 year.
Short-term side effects of PPI medications may include the following:
- Abdominal pain
Long-term health risks associated with PPIs
When proton pump inhibitors reduce the stomach’s acid production, the body is less able to absorb minerals. Over time, the reduction in mineral absorption can damage the kidneys and result in the following:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Acute kidney disease
- Acute interstitial nephritis
- End-stage kidney disease
The onset of PPI-induced kidney disease often occurs gradually. Therefore, many people don’t notice any major symptoms until their kidney disease has reached an advanced stage. Aside from kidney disease, PPIs are also believed to increase the risk of the following:
- Bone fractures
Heartburn medication and pregnancy risks
It’s not uncommon for women to experience heartburn during pregnancy. One recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) uncovered some evidence that suggests using PPIs during pregnancy can be harmful to the mother’s unborn child.
In the study, babies who were born to mothers who had used PPIs during pregnancy had a 28% greater chance of certain birth defects, mainly respiratory system and abdominal wall defects.
Safer alternatives to using PPIs
For people who experience heartburn that is unbearable or that occurs frequently, there are much healthier alternatives for relief than PPIs.
Chronic heartburn sometimes resolves by changing your diet and avoiding certain foods, such as:
- Fried or greasy foods
- Spicy foods
- Processed foods
- Caffeinated beverages like coffee
- Carbonated beverages
General lifestyle changes have also been shown to produce lasting improvements in conditions like GERD, including:
- Quitting smoking
- Losing weight
- Eating smaller meals more often
- Wearing loose clothing around the stomach
- Sleeping with your head slightly elevated
- Reducing abdominal weight
Some small studies have suggested that hypnotherapy may also reduce abdominal pain and eliminate related fear and anxiety by promoting a deep state of relaxation.
More immediate remedies for people who occasionally have heartburn and for more chronic sufferers include drinking 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda mixed into 4 ounces of water or supplementing with one of the following:
- Ginger root
- Marshmallow root
- Slippery elm
Compensation for heartburn medications injuries
Whether injured by over-the-counter or prescribed PPIs, people who experience negative health effects as a result of taking PPIs may pursue compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit. To date, more than 15,000 lawsuits against PPI manufacturers have already been filed.
Types of damages in a PPI lawsuit
In Alabama, victims who are injured by a pharmaceutical drug may be awarded compensation for the following:
- Economic damages. These are intended to compensate victims for financial losses, like medical expenses, lost income and property damage (if applicable).
- Non-economic damages. These are damages that are often more difficult to quantify because they are meant to compensate you for non-monetary losses, like pain and suffering and mental distress.
- Punitive damages. These are reserved for cases in which the defendant was particularly careless or malignant and are meant to punish the defendant and deter others from similar actions.
You have legal rights.
If you’re hurt because of someone’s negligence, you should contact our office immediately for a consultation.
Our dependable Alabama personal injury lawyers are experienced and will work hard to help you get the money you deserve.
Responsible parties in a PPI lawsuit
In a dangerous drug lawsuit, the manufacturer is generally liable for injuries caused by the drug. In addition to the manufacturer, other parties may also share liability, including:
- Drug distributors
- Testing laboratories
- Medical facilities
- Pharmaceutical sales reps
How to prove liability in a PPI lawsuit
If you believe a medication like a PPI resulted in an injury or illness, you will first need a medical diagnosis from a doctor.
Next, you’ll need to prove that your injury or illness was the direct result of the medication. This can sometimes be difficult to prove, but an experienced personal injury attorney can help investigate your case and gather evidence to tie your injury or illness to your use of a PPI.
A drug manufacturer or other associated party may be liable for an injury caused by a medication if any of the following is true:
- The drug had a defect that caused an illness or injury.
- The drug had dangerous side effects, and the manufacturer failed to adequately warn of these side effects.
- The drug was marketed in a way that was deceptive.
Statute of limitations in PPI lawsuits
Alabama law imposes a 2-year statute of limitations in personal injury cases involving medication injuries. Therefore, people who are injured by a dangerous drug must file a claim within 2 years of discovering they’re experiencing a health condition that is caused by a PPI.
If you suspect you may be having a health issue that is linked to your use of a heartburn drug, contact an Alabama personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will help you get the necessary health examinations to determine the causal link between your health condition and your use of a PPI.
Contact an Alabama personal injury attorney
If you believe you’ve developed an injury or illness because of a heartburn medication, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Nomberg Law Firm in Birmingham, Alabama. We’ll evaluate the facts of your case and help you file a personal injury claim to get the compensation you deserve.