The type of cancer a Zantac plaintiff developed may control where their case is tried. Plaintiffs claim that they were exposed to high levels of a carcinogenic substance in the discontinued heartburn medication, and now the type of cancer that has developed will dictate which court system their case may be tried in.
More than 1,700 personal injury claims have been filed against the makers and distributors of Zantac. Plaintiffs claim the medication caused their cancers of the bladder, esophagus, stomach, liver or pancreas. These claims have been consolidated in the federal court system, in a multidistrict litigation (MDL).
The MDL is in pretrial proceedings, with the latest development being that the federal judge overseeing the MDL, Judge Robin L. Rosenberg, is deciding on what expert testimony will be allowed.
Zantac plaintiffs with claims of other cancers, such as breast, colorectal, kidney, lung and prostate, have filed their lawsuits in state courts. Tens of thousands of Zantac lawsuits could be filed in state courts due to the fact that millions of people took Zantac before it was pulled from the market in April 2020.
The mass withdrawal came after lab testing by Valisure, an independent online pharmacy, and later testing by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed that ranitidine, the main active ingredient in Zantac, broke down into dangerously-high levels of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a substance that has been linked to cancer. Zantac breaks down into NDMA when it is stored at a temperature above 72 degrees.
More than 100,000 Zantac cancer claims have been filed against ranitidine makers, retailers and distributors, including Sanofi, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Boehringer Ingelheim. Many of those claims have been filed in recent weeks in Delaware state courts, where several drug manufacturers are based. Zantac lawsuits have also been filed in state courts in California, where at least four trials have been scheduled for next year.
Federal courts have more stringent standards for the scientific claims that are presented by expert witnesses. Plaintiffs who don’t have one of the five cancers that are being vetted for the MDL cases are electing to have their cases tried at the state court level.
Zantac was recently reintroduced to the market as Zantac 360, which replaced ranitidine with famotidine, an antihistamine and antacid that has not been linked with NDMA contamination.