The first of more than 4,500 proton pump inhibitor lawsuits will go to trial on September 21, 2020. The lawsuits are against the makers of popular heartburn medicines, such as Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid and Protonix.

Lawyers for the consumers had been trying to negotiate a trial date since September 2017. But, they said, the lawyers for the drug companies had not been cooperative.

Judge Claire C. Cecchi is overseeing the lawsuits. She had urged the lawyers for both sides to pick a trial date.

The parties initially reached an agreement for a May 2020 trial. But the date was pushed back four months after the court reviewed the logistics of the case, according to a case management order issued on June 20, 2018.

The outcomes of the early trials (known as bellwether trials) can influence settlement negotiations. They can also lead to cases being dismissed.

A total of 4,517 PPI lawsuits were pending in the New Jersey federal court as of June 15, 2018. A judicial panel had grouped these cases into multidistrict litigation (MDL) in August 2017. The number of lawsuits continues to grow.

People take PPIs to reduce stomach acid. Studies have linked the powerful medicines to kidney injury.

PPI side effects include acute interstitial nephritis and kidney failure. These injuries can be permanent, leading to long-term complications and death.

PPI lawsuits say the drugmakers knew about these kidney risks. But they failed to warn consumers.