Each year, millions of Americans are prescribed pharmaceuticals and take them assuming that they’re safe. However, more and more, drug companies are going to court after discovering their products contain potentially life-threatening ingredients. On January 30th, 2020, Zantac became the latest drug to be added to this notorious roster. Here’s what you need to know about the drug and the Zantac lawsuit.
A Brief History
Zantac is the trade name of a drug called ranitidine. It was introduced back in 1981 to relieve and reduce the frequency of heartburn. Although it could be obtained over the counter, Zantac was also available in prescription strengths to treat those with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (excessive acid production due to stomach tumors).
Over the next few years, Zantac became the best-selling drug in history. How? Brilliant marketing tactics. A launch strategy was planned so that Zantac could be promoted quickly across several channels at once, including at educational events for specialists and primary care physicians.
Armed with the knowledge they needed about the drug, they were able to get more referrals. TV ads, celebrity tours, and other strategies told people to get in touch with their doctors about getting the drug for their condition, increasing referrals even more.
Meanwhile, as physicians, advertisers, and others were making money hand over fist, those taking Zantac had no idea of the danger they were in.
Testing Reveals Carcinogen Called NDMA
A pharmaceutical company called Valisure alerted the FDA in September 2019 about their discovery of a chemical called NDMA (N-Nitrosodimethylamine) in all ranitidine-containing Zantac products sold by all manufacturers.
The news wasn’t good; the chemical is well-known as a carcinogen and serious contaminant, found in pesticides and industrial waste, to name just two sources. In the environment, typically only small amounts of NDMA are present.
However, thanks to a design flaw in the drug that causes it to be chemically unstable, its molecules can continue producing NDMA after someone takes it, resulting in buildup over time. Several years of research have revealed, without a doubt, that NDMA is carcinogenic.
Safe NDMA Limit Exceeded, FDA Denial
The safe daily limit of NDMA, set by the FDA itself, is 96ng (nanograms). Via FDA- approved testing, Valisure found that some 150mg Zantac pills contained 300,000 nanograms of NDMA— more than 3,000 times the safe limit.1 Millions of Americans take this dosage level on a daily basis.
The FDA’s response to this finding? To accuse Valisure of not testing the sample with the correct method, despite that method being FDA-approved.
No FDA Recalls
The FDA made an announcement of the findings on September 13, 2019, but surprisingly didn’t issue a recall of the drug at that time. Instead, it released a statement claiming not only that its benefits far outweighed its risks, but that the levels of NDMA found were no higher than those found in common foods. It also issued an alert on MedWatch.
It was drug makers that were first to voluntarily recall their ranitidine-containing products, beginning with Novartis, which halted all distribution of their drugs a mere five days after the FDA made its announcement. CVS, Walgreens, and several other retailers would follow, pulling Zantac and other generic brands of the drug from their shelves.
As well, 22 countries, including Canada, Germany, and France would go on to remove Zantac from their shelves or ban it entirely.
Zantac Class Action Lawsuit
On the same day that the FDA released its announcement of Valisure’s findings, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Sanofi-Aventis, the company that manufactures the drug under the Zantac brand name. Among the lawsuit’s pages was the accusation that the company deceived consumers by failing to disclose the presence of NDMA in their drug.
The lawsuit also included a statement stating the company either knew or had reason to know that those who took their product were exposed to dangerous levels of NDMA, but that this risk was not disclosed on the package or labels or via other avenues.
Federal Multi-District Litigation
Because of the large number of people wishing to file lawsuits due to Zantac cancer diagnoses, pharmaceutical, consumer protection, and class action attorneys from all over the country met on January 20th, 2020 in a Tampa, Florida federal court to present their arguments for consolidating class-action and individual lawsuits before one federal judge in a multi-district litigation.
We are proud to say that one of the Zantac lawsuit lawyers who argued in front of this court was our firm’s own: Nicola Harvey. On February 6th, 2020, the Daily Business Review at Law.com revealed the official decision that Zantac lawsuits would be heard in multi-district litigation in the Southern District of Florida.2
Which Zantac Brands Contain NDMA?
There are several brands of Zantac that contain ranitidine. While by no means an exhaustive list, the brands below are the most common.
Zantac Brands Containing Ranitidine
- Zantac 75 (tablets)
- Zantac 150 (tablets)
- Zantac 150 Maximum Strength
- Zantac 150 Maximum Strength Cool Mint
Generic Brands Containing Ranitidine
- Acid Control
- Acid Reducer
- Heartburn Relief
Types of Cancer Caused by Ingestion of Zantac
Considering that Zantac has been on the market for decades, several types of cancer have been associated with the drug. These include, but are by no means limited to, cancers of the:
Are You Eligible?
After reading all of this information, you are probably wondering whether you or someone you know would be eligible for compensation under the class action lawsuit against Zantac.
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with any of the cancers above after regular use of either prescription or over-the-counter Zantac or its generic brands, then you may be eligible to file.
However, you don’t necessarily have to have been diagnosed with cancer to seek compensation; the multi-district litigation allows filing by consumers who filled a prescription for Zantac or its generic brands.
The FDA and Zantac Manufacturers Have Failed to Meet Their Responsibilities
The FDA’s mission is stated clearly on their website. To paraphrase, the agency’s role is to be responsible “for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human drugs.”
Drug manufacturers are responsible for being proactive at evaluating, investigating, and collecting information related to the side effects of their drugs—and they must do this during clinical trials. They are also responsible for the vigorous monitoring of health outcomes, including any negative side effects of their drugs, once they have been released to the public.
Had the FDA and drug manufacturers met their responsibilities, Zantac would be an effective medication that saves consumers from the discomfort of heartburn and the development of related diseases. Instead, these two organizations have managed to successfully poison millions of people with a known carcinogen—and now, thanks to the Zantac ranitidine lawsuit, they are going to pay for it, big time.
Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys
In a perfect world, no medicine of any kind would cause serious or terminal illness, but the Zantac recall and lawsuit mean one more drug is involved in a seemingly continuous line of drugs and medical devices that have done just that.
The attorneys at Saunders & Walker P.A. are experts at personal injury cases. Since 1987, we have been taking pharmaceutical manufacturers to court for failing to consider the health of the people who use their products. If you or someone you love was prescribed Zantac and/or was diagnosed with cancer after using it, you were the victim of grave negligence at the hands of people who were supposed to protect you. We can help. Contact us to claim your free case evaluation today.