Hundreds of Zantac lawsuits continue to move forward in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, where a federal judge recent appointed 26 attorneys to various plaintiffs’ leadership positions.
According to a Pretrial Order dated May 8th, the appointments followed videoconference interviews with 62 Zantac lawyers who sought to serve in various leadership roles. Four of those attorneys were tapped to serve as Plaintiff’s Co-Lead Counsel, while 15 were named members of the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee.
Other attorneys will head up the litigation’s ESI/Document Production Committee; Law & Briefing Committee; Leadership Development Committee; Science & Experts Committee; and Bellwether & Trial Team.
“The Court leaves designation of other committee co-chairs, subcommittee membership, and creation of any other committees to the full discretion of Lead Counsel, including the timing of such decisions. The Court also directs the Lead Counsel to consider what structure will be most useful with respect to state/federal coordination, and to report on its recommendation at an upcoming status conference.
Around 250 Zantac lawsuits are currently pending in the multidistrict litigation underway in Florida. The docket includes both personal injury lawsuits filed on behalf of individuals who developed cancer due to the ingestion of allegedly tainted medications, as well as class action complaints that seek compensation for medical monitoring, refunds, and other economic damages on behalf consumers who purchased recalled Zantac.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced the Court to suspend all in-person proceedings for the time being. However, in order to ensure Zantac lawsuits continue moving forward to the greatest extent possible, the attorney interviews and certain other proceedings have been conducted virtually.
The litigation’s Initial Conference, among the events postponed due to the outbreak, is now scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. on May 12th via videoconference.
Zantac (ranitidine) is used to treat and prevent ulcers, as well as GERD and other conditions caused by the excess production of stomach acid.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) began investigating name-brand and generic versions of Zantac last fall, after the online pharmacy Valisure disclosed that it had detected Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) – a probable human carcinogen – in every sample it tested and often at levels that far exceeded the recommended daily limit of 96 nanograms. At the time, Valisure asserted that NDMA resulted from the instability of the ranitidine molecule, which appeared to produce the chemical when subjected to conditions similar to those created by human digestion.
In January, Emery Pharma announced that its own tests suggested ranitidine produced NDMA when subjected to high temperatures typically encountered during shipment and storage.
In April the FDA confirmed that levels of NDMA can increase in ranitidine over time and ordered manufacturers to immediately recall all name-brand or generic Zantac products remaining on the market.
Prior to the Zantac recall, doctors in the United States wrote roughly 15 million prescriptions for ranitidine products every year, while countless millions of Americans relied on over-the-counter versions. Given the drugs’ widespread popularity, Zantac lawyers have estimated that the litigation stemming from the recall could eventually grow to include thousands of similar claims.