Zantac (also known by its chemical name Ranitidine) has been available over the counter and by prescription since 1981. By 1987, Zantac was the best-selling prescription drug in the world. Ranitidine was widely used in the United States and around the world as an effective treatment for heartburn (also called GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease).
In October 2019, the FDA announced that its in-house testing had confirmed unacceptable levels of a chemical called NDMA in samples of Ranitidine. In response, manufacturers and retailers pulled Ranitidine products from their shelves and stopped selling it.
In 1987 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (which is part of the World Health Organization) classified NDMA as "probably carcinogenic to humans". Since then, the scientific evidence that NDMA causes cancer has only grown stronger, and experts in the field generally agree it is a human carcinogen.
In response to the October 2019 FDA announcement, Ranitidine manufacturers announced recalls of their products, while pharmacy chains including Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS stopped selling Zantac and its generic versions.
Hausfeld represents more than 150 consumers who have legal claims against the makers of Ranitidine claim that:
- Ranitidine is unstable, so that the ranitidine molecule actually forms cancer-causing NDMA prior to ingestion from heat and humidity during distribution and storage, and also continues to form more NDMA in the body after ingestion;
- As a result, several different types of cancer can develop from the presence of the NDMA in the body, including: bladder, breast, colorectal/intestinal, esophageal, gastric, kidney, liver, lung, pancreatic, prostate, and thyroid cancers; and
- The drug companies who manufacture and market Zantac knew or should have known about the dangers of NDMA forming in the body from Ranitidine, especially for long term use, but failed to properly warn consumers.
Zantac lawsuits filed in or moved to federal court are now part of so-called "multi-district litigation" (MDL) against GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi and Boehringer Ingelheim in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The case has been assigned to Judge Robin Rosenberg. There are thousands of cases that are a part of the Zantac MDL, with more cases filed on a regular basis.
Hausfeld’s Product Liability and Environmental Practice Group is known for its industry-leading experience, skills and pioneering strategic approaches in addressing the complex scientific issues in cases like this one. Through judicial appointment or specific invitation from our peers, our team is often called upon to lead or contribute to the substantive and strategic course of mass tort MDLs, including where complex medical and scientific issues are involved. The Hausfeld team possesses decades-developed expertise in topics ranging from science/expert discovery and related "battle of the experts" Daubert motion practice.
At the invitation of judicially appointed Zantac MDL leaders, Hausfeld attorneys are actively assisting in working with experts in cancer epidemiology, pathology, toxicology, and other medical and scientific fields. If and when those experts and their scientific opinions are challenged by the defense lawyers, the Hausfeld team will be there for our clients and all affected consumers – as we have in many other MDLs – to make sure the experts meet the challenge and are able to tell juries about Ranitidine’s ability to cause cancer.