Zantac lawsuits continue to mount in courts throughout the United States, following the discovery of a cancer-causing chemical in name-brand and generic versions of ranitidine.
Two of the most recent lawsuits, currently pending in New Jersey and North Carolina federal courts, claim that contaminated Zantac was responsible for causing the plaintiffs’ bladder and stomach cancers.
According to a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, on November 14th, Michael Combs was diagnosed with bladder cancer after using Zantac OTC 150mg from about 2014 through 2017. (Case No. 3:19-cv-20289)
The second Zantac lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, just five days later, and alleges Mary Anthony’s stomach cancer diagnosis was the direct result of contaminated Zantac, which she used regularly for nearly 30 years. (Case No. 3:19-cv-00628-GCM)
Zantac, known generically as ranitidine, is a heartburn that has been on the market for decades.
On September 13th, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some samples of ranitidine and Zantac had tested positive for the presence of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a probable human carcinogen. The agency was informed of the contamination by Valisure, an online pharmacy that found NDMA in every drug sample it tested, and frequently at levels far higher than the FDA’s daily limits.
Valisure has asserted that NDMA resulted from the instability of the ranitidine molecule, which purportedly degrades when subjected to conditions similar to human digestion. While the FDA is still working to determine if ranitidine produces NDMA in the stomach, the agency maintains that any risk to consumers is low.
Nevertheless, numerous drug makers, including Sanofi-Aventis, Sandoz, and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, among others, have opted to conduct ranitidine and Zantac recalls. CVS, Wal-Mart, and other retails have also stopped selling the medications.
A growing number of Zantac lawsuits claim that defendants were aware that ranitidine could produce NDMA in the stomach as early as the 1980s, but intentionally concealed this information from regulators and the public.
“Defendants’ conduct as alleged herein was done with reckless disregard for human life, oppression, and malice,” Anthony’s lawsuit states. “Defendants were fully aware of the safety risks of Zantac, particularly the carcinogenic potential of Zantac as it transforms into NDMA within the chemical environment of the human body. Nonetheless, Defendants deliberately crafted their label, marketing and promotion to mislead consumers.
Last month, several plaintiffs pursuing Zantac lawsuits in federal court asked the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to centralize the growing docket before a single judge, preferably in the District of New Jersey. If the request is granted, all such pending cases, as well as any filed in federal courts in the future, will undergo coordinated discovery and other pretrial proceedings as a means of improving judicial efficiency and preserving the resources of the courts, parties, and witnesses involved in the litigation.
At some point, the Court will select several representative Zantac lawsuits for a series of early bellwether trials. These verdicts will help to gauge the strength of plaintiffs’ claims and might provide insight into how other juries might decide similar cases.