Dozens of Zantac lawsuits continue to move forward in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, despite the suspension of all in-person proceedings due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
According to an Order dated April 2nd, the Court has established procedures for implementing a census to facilitate effective case management and efficient progression of the multidistrict litigation.
The two-phase census will be conducted via an “Initial Census Form” to be utilized in all pending Zantac lawsuits and certain unfiled cases, as well as a Census Plus Form for personal injury and medical monitoring cases. In addition, the Order provides for the creation of a voluntary Census Registry of potential unfiled claims.
“The Initial Census will provide preliminary information on all filed claims, within 30 days of this Order,” the Order states. “In addition, the Initial Census will provide the Court with select information regarding the nature of the full inventory of retained clients for each applicant for plaintiffs’ leadership, to assist the Court in selecting a leadership team that can most adequately and effectively represent the interests of the array of plaintiffs in this matter.”
Because information for the Census Plus Forms may take longer to gather, they will be completed and submitted for all Zantac lawsuits on a scheduled basis during the second phase of the census.
The Census Registry is entirely voluntary and is intended to provide the Court and leadership counsel with transparency into the claims that are still being investigated and developed. As such, it will remain unfiled.
Around 144 Zantac lawsuits are now pending in the multidistrict litigation underway in Florida. These claims include individual personal injury lawsuits filed on behalf of individuals who developed cancer due to the use of allegedly tainted drugs, as well as class action complaints that seek refunds, medical monitoring, and other damages related to Zantac purchases.
All of the cases were filed after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) warned the public that some samples of Zantac and generic ranitidine products might contain high levels of Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) – a probable human carcinogen. The online pharmacy Valisure informed the agency of the contamination last summer, after detecting NDMA in every sample of Zantac and ranitidine it tested, and often at levels far above the FDA’s recommended daily limit of 96 nanograms.
Valisure asserted that the presence of NDMA was a consequence of the ranitidine molecule’s instability, which resulted in the production of the compound when subjected to conditions that mimicked human digested. Earlier this year, Emery Pharma reported that its own testing suggested NDMA was produced when Zantac products were exposed to high temperatures typically encountered during shipment and storage.
On April 1st. the FDA confirmed that levels of NDMA in ranitidine can increase over time. The agency ordered the immediate recall of all Zantac and generic ranitidine medications remaining on the market and advised consumers to stop using over-the-counter versions. However, those taking prescription products should speak with their doctors before they cease treatment.