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Zantac Cancer Lawsuits — July 2020 Update

Our lawyers are now investigating Zantac cancer lawsuits.  The evidence is building that Zantac is causing many types of cancer.  As of February 2020, we now have a consolidated class action for all Zantac cases filed in federal court.

There is a widespread belief among mass tort attorneys that these MDL class action claims could be worth billions of dollars.  In fact, these lawsuits are likely to be consolidated into a class action later this month.  This is great news, as I explain below, if you are a victim.


Zantac is a hugely popular drug that millions of people in the U.S. use to treat heartburn, acid reflux, and similar conditions. In September 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announcing that dangerously high levels of a human carcinogen called NDMA have been found in Zantac.

This means that millions of people who have been taking Zantac may have been regularly ingesting a chemical notorious for causing cancer. Moreover, drug manufacturers may have known about this risk. And said nothing.

Zantac is manufactured and distributed in the U.S. by the international pharmaceutical giant Sanofi (f/k/a Sanofi-Aventis). The first Zantac class-action lawsuit has already been filed against Sanofi in the U.S. District Court in California. I expect thousands of additional Zantac lawsuits to follow. My firm is currently accepting new Zantac lawsuit clients.

About Zantac

Zantac is the popular brand name of a drug called Ranitidine, which is widely used to treat various gastrointestinal conditions such as heartburn and acid reflux. Zantac has been around for a long time. Zantac was first sold in the U.S. back in 1983 and it quickly became one of the most widely used drugs on the market. Just 3 years after its initial release, Zantac became the first drug in the U.S. to generate $1 billion in sales.

Today Zantac is available in both prescription and over-the-counter form, and it remains one of the most popular drugs on the market. In 2018, sales of over-the-counter Zantac alone totaled $129 million.

Ranitidine (the active ingredient in Zantac) belongs to a family of drugs known as histamine-2 or H2 blockers. The over-the-counter dosage of Ranitidine is widely used to treat and prevent chronic heartburn and acid reflux. Prescription-strength Ranitidine is used to treat stomach ulcers and other more serious conditions. Generic versions of Ranitidine are sold by various companies, but Zantac continues to be the most popular brand.

Zantac Found to Contain NDMA

Zantac recalls infographic

Click to enlarge

N-Nitrosodimethylamine (“NDMA”) is a chemical byproduct of certain industrial processes NDMA has long been recognized as a potential human carcinogen. NDMA is highly toxic to the human body, especially the liver, and has been conclusively linked to various forms of cancer since the 1970s.

In 2018 Chinese pharmaceutical manufacturers unexpectedly discovered that enormous quantities of generic Valsartan (a very popular blood pressure drug) were contaminated with high NDMA levels. The presence of NDMA was believed to be an inadvertent byproduct of a change in the manufacturing process. The discovery of NDMA in Valsartan promoted a massive safety recall and led to concerns about NDMA contamination in other pharmaceuticals.

Valisure is a pharmaceutical testing laboratory that periodically analyzes drugs for purity and quality. After the Valsartan contamination, Valisure started testing several heartburn drugs to check for NDMA. The results of the Valisure testing on heartburn drugs dropped a bombshell on the pharmaceutical community. Valisure found that Zantac and other generic versions of Ranitidine contained dangerously high levels of NDMA. In fact, the Valisure testing found that a single tablet of Zantac contained 26,000 times the acceptable daily limit of NDMA (the limit is 96 nanograms, according to the FDA). Valisure reported these findings to the FDA in June 2019.

[Post intermission: Does anyone other than me think it is insane that Valisure was the one to figure this out?  Not Sanofi.  Not the FDA.  But a random pharmacy. It is unbelievable.]

In September 2019, the FDA issued a public safety warning stating that Zantac and generic Ranitidine contained “unacceptable” levels of NDMA.

In response, the three largest retail pharmacy stores in the U.S. (Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens) have pulled Zantac and its generic alternatives from their shelves. Many manufacturers of generic Zantac have already recalled their products. To date, however, Sanofi has not issued a safety recall of Zantac.

On October 18, 2019, in what the FDA annoying calls a “precautionary measure”,  Sanofi issued a recall  Zantac OTC in the U.S. (over-the-counter) in the United States (Zantac 150, Zantac 150 Cool Mint, and Zantac 75).  We know NDMA causes cancer and we know NDMA is in Zantac.  You can bet as the litigation proceeds, the Zantac defendants will hide behind the FDA’s skirt once again.  I think this “precautionary measure” language is one more example of the FDA throwing industry a bone to help protect them from legal liability.  You really don’t take precautionary measures when the house is on fire.

When did we first know the house was on fire?  That is what we have to figure out in these lawsuits.  We know that in 2016, Stanford researchers tested urine samples of ten people who took Zantac.  They found NDMA levels much higher than the limits set by the FDA.  What did Sanofi do when they heard that information? What did they already know?

What Are the Potential Injuries from Zantac?

Zantac users may have been exposed to unsafe levels of NDMA over prolonged periods of time. According to the FDA, the safe daily intake limit for NDMA is 96 ng. The Valisure testing found NDMA levels in a single 150 mg tablet to be as high as 2,511,469 ng – which is 26,000 times greater than the safe daily limit. The FDA’s own testing found lower levels of NDMA in Zantac, but even these levels were 3,000 times the daily acceptable limit.

There is no debate within the scientific and medical community that NDMA is a substance that causes cancer in humans and animals. The link between NDMA and various types of cancer was first discovered back in the 1970s. Prolonged exposure to NDMA has been shown to cause several cancers including liver, gastric, kidney, and colorectal cancer.

NDMA not only causes cancer but at very high levels it can actually function as a poison. There are several reported cases in which acute, high-dose ingestion of NDMA has caused liver damage, internal bleeding, and death. Animal testing found that ingestion of moderate to high levels of NDMA in water or food can damage the liver after just a few weeks.

So what exactly are the plaintiffs’ contending in this case? Is everyone who took Zantac going to get cancer? Of course not. The reasons people get cancer are complex and not fully understood. But plaintiffs’ argument in these cases is more like this:

So for some people, exposure to these NDMAs pushes them off the cliff from not having cancer to having cancer.

What Are the Zantac Lawsuits About?

Zantac is a drug used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide daily. The recent discovery of NDMA in Zantac means that all these people may have unknowingly been ingesting a toxic carcinogen every day for years. Even more concerning is the fact that the drug companies that manufactured and sold Zantac either knew or should have known that the drug-exposed users to unsafe levels of NDMA. Sanofi and generic Zantac manufacturers are now facing massive liability from potentially hundreds of thousands of prospective claimants. The first Zantac class-action lawsuit was filed against Sanofi last month in a Federal Court in California. That lawsuit (Garza v. Sanofi-Adventis U.S.) will undoubtedly be the first of hundreds, possibly thousands of Zantac lawsuits to be filed over the next few years.

zantac cancer lawsuits

Who Can File a Zantac Lawsuit?

My law firm is looking at potential Zantac plaintiffs who regularly used Zantac for a prolonged period and subsequently were diagnosed with cancer and, particularly, any of the following cancers:

  • Stomach Cancer
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Breast Cancer (new study is expected to confirm this)
  • Liver Cancer
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Testicular Cancer
  • Uterine Cancer
  • Small Intestine Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Esophageal Cancer

My guess is the science will eventually prove that NDMA exposure causes every type of cancer.

Other potential Zantac plaintiffs include individuals who frequently used Zantac and suffered acute damage to their liver. I have not yet focused on liver injury cases.  Our lawyers are focusing on Zantac cancer lawsuits.

It may take years for NDMA exposure to cause any of these cancers to develop.  Our lawyers are looking at cases where the victim used Zantac or some generic form of ranitidine for more than three months.

On November 4, 2019, plaintiffs’ lawyers filed a consolidation petition to have all federal Zantac cancer lawsuits centralized under a single judge.  Some people call this a class action.  It is actually an MDL.  The petition argued that the “NDMA in Zantac is not an impurity that only recently made its way into the drug through shoddy manufacturing but is instead inherent to the drug’s molecular structure.”  Of course, it can be both and probably is both in this case.

In February 2020, the Zantac were assigned to U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg in Miami.  This judge will preside over all the Zantac cases filed in federal court throughout the country.

In June 2020, the MDL judge set forth a plan for pretrial discovery and disputes between the parties during the litigation process.

What Is the Settlement Value of Zantac Cancer Claims?

When any new litigation starts, people want to know the settlement value of these Zantac cancer claims. It is understandable, right? When you or someone you love has suffered from something as awful as cancer, you want to know what the ultimate compensation might be. Wanting to know how much money you get for suffering is not being greedy. It is what we have based our civil justice system on since long before we were even a country. Of course, the most honest answer at this point in the litigation is that I have no idea. If your case were to go to trial, the settlement value would be very different and higher than if you are a part of an eventual global settlement of all Zantac claims.

Speculating at this point is not a very useful exercise. But let’s do it, anyway. If the litigation goes very well, the number I would pull out of thin air is between $150,000 and $750,000 with an average of $200,000.   The trial value would be higher if you took your car to try.

If your case were to go to trial, the upside would be much higher. I mean, look at the Roundup verdicts where we saw a $1 billion award.  Of course, if the case goes to trial, there is also the risk of getting a zero verdict.

I think Roundup is a good comparable although I think juries will not be as angry at the Zantac defendants as they are Bayer.  But there will be more Zantac claims.  So I do not think it is hyperbole to contend, as many lawyers already have, that the Zantac litigation may ultimately dwarf the Roundup $10 billion settlement.

I think I’ve put in enough qualifiers, but I’ll say it one more time. All of this is naked speculation. No one knows where these Zantac cancer lawsuits are ultimately going. But there is no question there are many lawyers out there who believe these claims will result in significant compensation in an eventual global MDL class action settlement.

Initial Zantac Lawsuits

The first handful of Zantac product liability lawsuits have already been filed against Sanofi (and its corporate subsidiaries in the U.S.) and Boehringer. Boehringer had the rights to sell Zantac in the U.S. from October 2006 to January 2017. So far the Zantac cases are falling into 2 distinct categories: (1) cancer cases; and (2) consumer class action cases.

Zantac Cancer Cases 

The plaintiffs in these cases are people who regularly used Zantac and were subsequently diagnosed with certain types of cancer that are closely linked to NDMA ingestion (e.g., kidney, bladder, stomach, etc.). These will be the real high-value Zantac cases. Examples of recent Zantac cancer cases include:

  • Blake v. Boehringer Ingelheim, et al. (1:19-cv-02991 – D. Colorado): This Zantac cancer case was filed in Federal Court in Denver on October 21, 2019. The plaintiff took Zantac several times a week for 23 years and was eventually diagnosed with bladder cancer. His complaint claims that his bladder cancer was caused by prolonged ingestion of NDMA in Zantac and cites animal studies linking NDMA to bladder cancer.
  • Kerzer v. Sanofi-Aventis U.S., et al. (1:19-cv-24092-RNS – S.D. Florida): Filed on October 3, 2019, this was one of the very first Zantac cancer cases. The plaintiff, a middle-aged male from Miami, regularly used Zantac (first in a prescription form then over-the-counter) from 1985 to 2019. During this time he allegedly ingested Zantac 4-5 times a week. The plaintiff claims that his prolonged ingestion of NDMA from his use of Zantac caused him to develop kidney cancer in 2017.

It is now July 2020. Since I wrote this, so many more cases have been filed and this litigation is moving forward.

Consumer Class Actions

The plaintiffs in these consumer class action cases do not have cancer or other injuries. They are bringing claims on behalf of all Zantac users for alleged violations of various state consumer laws (deceptive trade practices, misrepresentation, etc.). Examples of some of these cases are below:

  • Dimesky, et al. v. Sanofi, et al. (3:19-cv-01517-RNC – D. Connecticut): This was one of the very first Zantac class-action consumer lawsuits filed and the allegations in the complaint have been widely copied in subsequent cases. The plaintiffs are individuals from Florida and Connecticut who regularly used Zantac. None of the plaintiffs have been diagnosed with cancer. They are seeking to represent a class of all similar Zantac users in both Florida and Connecticut. The complaint alleges that the plaintiffs would not have purchased and used Zantac if they had known about the NDMA. The complaint asserts claims for violation of Florida and Connecticut consumer protection laws and common law claims for fraudulent concealment. It seeks damages for the expenses incurred by all class members (Zantac users in both states) for costs they incurred on the medication.

Again, our firm is focused exclusively on the Zantac cancer class action MDL lawsuit.  We are not handling consumer cases where there is no injury.

  • FDA testing of Zantac from November 1, 2019, way be a core of their defense to these cases.  But I don’t think the testing is correct and I think the evidence will back me up.  I’d trust the Valisure testing over the FDA’s testing any day of the week.

How Can I Get in the Zantac Class Action Lawsuit?

If you are one of the millions of people who used Zantac for heartburn, acid reflux or other conditions, you may have been injured by prolonged exposure to NDMA.

Thousands of Zantac lawsuits will be filed over the next few years.  A Zantac MDL class action will soon be formed.  If you think you may have developed cancer or otherwise been injured by using Zantac contact the lawyers at Miller & Zois today. We can investigate your case and evaluate whether you have a viable claim. Call 800-553-600o or get advice from us for free online.

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