Several drug makers named as defendants in Zantac lawsuits are voicing support for federal centralization, joining plaintiffs in calling for the establishment of a multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey.
Zantac lawsuits began mounting in the nation’s courts this past fall, shortly after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) warned that ranitidine-containing heartburn drugs could be contaminated with N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a probable human carcinogen.
Numerous pharmaceutical companies have since recalled their Zantac and ranitidine products, while various retailers have opted to remove the medications from their stores.
The FDA learned of the contamination from Valisure, an online pharmacy that found NDMA in every sample of Zantac and ranitidine it tested. While Valisure believes NDMA resulted from the instability of the ranitidine molecule, which purportedly degrades when subjected to the conditions created by digestion, the FDA is still working to determine if Zantac produces the carcinogen in the human stomach.
At least 45 Zantac lawsuits have been filed in federal courts around the country since the FDA issued its warning on September 13th. They include personal injury claims that blame contaminated ranitidine products for causing cancer, as well as class action lawsuits that seek economic damages and medical monitoring for consumers who purchased tainted drugs. Defendants include:
Considering the widespread popularity of Zantac prior to the NDMA controversy, many legal experts believe the litigation will eventually grow to include hundreds – if not thousands – of similar claims.
On November 4th, plaintiffs asked the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to centralize all federally filed Zantac lawsuits before a single judge in the District of New Jersey. In a response filed last week, several defendants, including Boehringer Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Sanofi, agreed that the cases should be centralized, either in the District of New Jersey or the Southern District of New York.
“All indications are that the Zantac litigation will be complex and hard-fought litigation,” they stated. “No one disputes that these cases should be centralized into an MDL; the only real questions are where and before whom.”
Along with noting that the District of New Jersey currently houses the largest number of Zantac lawsuits, the response pointed out that GlaxoSmithKline (Philadelphia), Pfizer (New York), and Boehringer Ingelheim (Connecticut) are all headquartered nearby.
The Panel is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the proposed Zantac lawsuit centralization during its January 30, 2020 hearing session in Tampa, Florida.