What Potential Plaintiffs Should Know, As of January 2021
Since initial studies showed Zantac (active ingredient ranitidine) could be contaminated with potential carcinogen NDMA, a bevy of lawsuits have been filed against the companies behind the medication. While none of them have reached a verdict or settlement, the courts have consolidated these cases into a multi-district litigation (MDL) in Florida and the discovery phase has begun.
Here’s where the process stands, and what you should know if you’re considering filing a Zantac cancer lawsuit.
The Contamination Is Linked to Ranitidine, Zantac’s Active Ingredient
In 2019, an independent laboratory sounded the alarm that Zantac could be contaminated by NDMA, a substance used to induce cancer in lab rats and therefore likely carcinogenic to humans as well. The FDA released a warning regarding the findings and began tests of its own. Some pharmacies and makers of ranitidine-based heartburn drugs recalled these medications at this time.
The FDA’s tests ultimately found lower NDMA levels in Zantac than the independent lab that had raised the alarm, but the agency concluded the substance was still present at unsafe levels. It published a total recall of Zantac and its generics in mid-2020. None of these medications have returned to shelves since.
How Were These Medications Contaminated?
The issue with ranitidine was not caused by impurities in the manufacturing process—it has to do with molecular instability of the substance itself. Ranitidine, when stored in above-room temperature conditions, will start to decay into NDMA. It undergoes a similar change when exposed to the heat and chemicals in the stomach. In other words, ranitidine is unsafe for use in oral medications.
Why Did the FDA Tests Find Lower Levels of NDMA?
Because ranitidine breaks down into NDMA only under certain conditions, the levels found in any given batch of Zantac can vary. Testing found Zantac was likely to have higher NDMA levels when it:
- Had been stored at higher than room temperatures
- Was exposed to water or moisture during storage
- Had been on shelves for an extended period
The factors likely explain the differences between results from various laboratories.
Patients Have Filed Suits for Cancer Diagnoses That May Be Linked to NDMA Exposure
Though taking Zantac for a brief time is unlikely to expose a patient to enough NDMA to cause cancer, many people relied on the drug as a long-term heartburn solution. Patients who used Zantac or its generics for a year or more and then developed cancer rightfully began asking whether there was a link between the medication and their disease. Defective drug lawyers have helped investigate these claims and worked with patients to file cases where NDMA exposure seems a likely cause of cancer.
How Do I Know If My Cancer Was Caused by NDMA?
There is no test or procedure that can affirmatively prove whether cancer was caused by NDMA, but by looking at patient factors, your doctor and lawyer can help you determine whether exposure may have been a factor. If you:
- were exposed to relatively high levels of NDMA
- over a long period (usually a year or more) and
- do not have a family history or other major environmental risk factors,
you may be a good candidate for a Zantac cancer case.
It’s okay if you are not sure about the answers to these questions right now. We invite you to reach out to our team for a free consultation to determine whether filing a case is the right step for you.
Zantac Lawsuits Have Been Consolidated in a Florida Court
As of late 2019, nearly 600 individuals had brought cases alleging Zantac caused them to develop cancer, and with the widespread use of the drug, courts expect the filings to continue. To streamline the litigation, these cases were consolidated in February of 2020. This means they will all be heard in the same federal court. Lawyers are currently in the discovery phase of pre-trial work, which is expected to wrap up by December of 2021.
For those who have not yet filed a claim, you are still able to join the MDL.
Do I Have to Join the Existing Multi-District Litigation?
If you intend to file a claim against the makers of Zantac after developing cancer linked to NDMA, your case will be added to the existing MDL. However, this is not a bad thing. It simply allows one judge to oversee all pre-trial proceedings. This preserves courts’ resources and allows every plaintiff to bring their lawsuit under the same rules and expectations. This also ensures cases will be overseen by a judge who is experienced with the issue rather than a variety of judges across the nation who would each have less experience than an MDL judge.
Is Multi-District Litigation the Same as Class Action Proceedings?
No, MDL and class action are different types of legal proceedings, and MDL is the type you want if you are suing for the complications of a dangerous drug. While class action claims result in the same payout for every claimant involved, MDL allows each plaintiff to make their own case and argue for unique damages that match their situation.
When dealing with a life-changing disease like cancer, you want to be in a position where you can present records of the damages you’ve incurred to the court and receive a settlement or verdict that meets your needs.
More Questions? Our Team Can Help.
Grewal Law PLLC is experienced in representing plaintiffs in MDL claims. We can help you understand what your case might look like and what damages you could be eligible to request. If you believe your Zantac use led to a cancer diagnosis, we want to help you find answers and fight for justice. Our team prides itself on offering individualized service and all-around support.
Schedule a free consultation with one of our Zantac cancer attorneys by calling us at (888) 211-5798. We’ve helped our clients recover hundreds of millions from wrongdoers.