Zantac lawsuits allege that Zantac (ranitidine) causes cancer. Zantac suits are being brought by ranitidine users later diagnosed with cancer. Ranitidine is the main active ingredient in Zantac.
Evidence shows ranitidine metabolizes in the body to create the compound NDMA, which scientists use to cause cancer in lab animals. Ranitidine is thus likely to cause cancer in humans. In April 2020, the FDA requested the recall of all products containing ranitidine, an action which alerted many to the problem and touched off Zantac litigation.
Ranitidine lawsuits have been moving forward quickly since then. Most law firms representing people allegedly hurt by Zantac are handling five basic types of cancer cases:
February 10, 2022: The next step in the Zantac litigation is candidate pool selection for bellwether cases. Plaintiffs’ lawyers have filed a motion asking that an MDL class action judge enter an order taking steps to protect confidential information in the medical records of the proposed bellwether plaintiffs. The motion seeks to have all information regarding mental health, sexual abuse, and substance abuse redacted from the medical records produced for these potential bellwether plaintiffs.
January 25, 2022: The types of cancers considered in the MDL Zantac litigation were narrowed down to five cancer types: bladder, liver, pancreatic, stomach, esophageal.
February 1, 2022: A Zantac lawsuit has been filed in 2,000+ cases. Tens of thousands of other Zantac claims have been preserved through an agreement with the filing of a Zantac lawsuit with defense lawyers and the MDL judge.
January 20, 2022: The MDL class action judge in the Zantac cancer lawsuits held a science day on December 2 and 3. Lawyers for both sides received a chance to educate the court about technical and scientific evidence in the litigation. The science day featured educational presentations designed to help the court better understand some of the science and statistics regarding the link between NDMA in Zantac and various types of cancer.
December 3, 2021: The MDL judge approved the plan for selecting “bellwether” cases from pending Zantac lawsuits. Zantac cases will be categorized according to the type of cancer a plaintiff alleges. Then 25 cases will be selected randomly from each cancer type group. Ten cancer type groups were initially proposed, but the Plaintiffs’ Leadership Counsel later advised that they will not be litigating breast or kidney cancer cases, which cut the total to eight cancer types. (It’s now five.) Twenty-five Zantac cancer lawsuits will be randomly selected (by computer) from each cancer type group, creating an initial pool of 200 cases. These 200 suits will then face a fact discovery and vetting process to eliminate cases that don’t meet certain eligibility criteria. This vetting process will be completed by August 1, 2022. Those remaining in the pool will then be chosen for bellweather trials.
November 17, 2021: The total MDL Zantac cancer lawsuits filed as of November 15, 2021 is 1,777. However, more than 80,000 census forms have been filled out thus far, following a tolling agreement that pushes back the statute of limitations if one properly registers a claim.
November 15, 2021: The MDL judge ruled for the plaintiff in a motion to dismiss the medical monitoring Zantac MDL class action. These claims are for victims who do not have cancer but are at increased risk for cancer. The premise of these Zantac lawsuits is that a diagnostic testing regime is needed for people who do not have cancer but need cancer detection screening because of the increased risk caused by NDMA. This ruling has no direct impact on cancer victims bringing a Zantac lawsuit because NDMA was a substantial contributing cause to their developing cancer.
California Zantac Lawsuits
In addition to the Zantac cases in the federal court MDL, hundreds of Zantac lawsuits filed in state courts in California have been consolidated into a JCCP, the golden state’s state court version of an MDL.
The judge in the Zantac JCCP announced that the opening bellwether trial will begin in October 2022. A second test trial will follow shortly afterwards.
Generic Rantidine Cases Dismissed
August 18, 2021: The MDL judge dismissed all the Zantac lawsuits involving generic or store brand versions of Zantac.
The judge dismissed these claims because she believes they are preempted by federal law. Rulings by the US Supreme Court protecting generic drug makers has led to this miscarriage of justice.
Zantac and Cancer
Zantac (ranitidine) belongs to a family of drugs called histamine-2 or H2 blockers. Ranitidine and other H2 blockers decrease the amount of acid produced in the stomach. H2 blockers are called “antacids” and the OTC versions are commonly used to treat and prevent heartburn (gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD). Prescription-strength Zantac is used for the treatment of very severe heartburn and more serious conditions such as stomach/intestinal ulcers.
Zantac was a very popular antacid drug since the 1980s. It was the 50th most prescribed drug with 15 million prescriptions a year. Millions more purchased the drug and its generic equivalent over-the-counter (OTC).
Zantac was originally developed by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline in the United States in 1983. Glaxo invested millions aggressively promoting the drug to doctors and the public.
Zantac became one of the best-selling drugs in pharmaceutical history. It was the first medication to reach $1 billion in annual U.S. sales, which was a lot of money before the Covid vaccine bonanza came along and made a billion in gains seem almost modest.
Those huge profits came at the expense of many thousands of unwitting people who took Zantac and later developed cancer, the plaintiffs argue. The bellwether trials and time will tell if those injured peoples’ arguments hold water, as Zantac cancer litigation continues to move forward.