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AstraZeneca to pay $425 million to end US lawsuits over heartburn drugs

FILE PHOTO: AstraZeneca's site in Macclesfield, Britain

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) -Britain's AstraZeneca has agreed to pay $425 million to settle about 11,000 lawsuits in the United States that claimed its heartburn drugs Nexium and Prilosec caused chronic kidney disease.

AstraZeneca did not admit wrongdoing under the settlement, part of broader litigation against makers of a class of heartburn drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Its shares dipped 0.4%.

"Today's settlements are a significant victory for the thousands of patients who suffered kidney injuries as a result of using" the drugs, the plaintiffs' attorney Chris Seeger said in a statement.

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A single lawsuit is still scheduled to go to trial in April in Louisiana, according to AstraZeneca.

Nexium brought AstraZeneca about $1.3 billion in revenue last year. The company did not report sales figures for Prilosec.

Many lawsuits against makers of PPIs were consolidated in a New Jersey federal court in 2017, while other cases covered by the settlement are in New Jersey and Delaware state courts.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuits allege that PPI use led to kidney damage or failure, and that the companies failed to warn of the risk. The lawsuits include claims over both the prescription versions of the drugs and the lower-dose over-the-counter versions.

Claims remain pending against Abbott Laboratories and Takeda Pharmaceutical over their PPI Prevacid, and against Takeda over its Dexilant drug.

Separate litigation is pending against GSK and other companies over the now-withdrawn heartburn drug Zantac, which plaintiffs say can cause cancer. The company has settled individual cases before trial, but still faces tens of thousands in state courts.

GSK and other companies that have sold Zantac previously won dismissal of some 50,000 cases that were pending in federal court after a judge concluded the claims were not based on sound science.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York and Eva Mathews and Khushi Mandowara in BengaluruEditing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Rod Nickel)