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A Simple Guide to Zantac Cancer Lawsuits and Settlements

How Do I Know If I Have a Zantac Cancer Claim?

You have already done quite a bit of internet research and likely found that getting to the answer can be a little more complicated than it sounds. “Zantac” is just the brand name of a popular heartburn drug called ranitidine (kind of like Xerox is just the popular brand name of a copy machine). So we will just use the name Zantac to loosely refer to all ranitidine products. Zantac can be prescribed by a doctor or purchased over-the-counter, for different digestive issues. Zantac is produced by a bunch of drug companies you know (Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi, Boehringer, etc.) and a bunch of generic drug manufacturers that you have probably never heard of. You have also likely been told by now that generic drug companies are generally immune to lawsuits (yes and no – but you likely will have to prove that you were not taking generic Zantac only). In addition, you may have been taking combinations of different types of Zantac over several years, and you obviously did not save all of your Zantac receipts. All of this starts to seem complicated, but you have to break it down into more manageable parts.

STEP 1: Confirm that you took Zantac

You first just have to confirm that you used any Zantac at all. If you took prescription Zantac, this can be easily shown by asking for a copy of your pharmacy records. Proving use of over-the-counter Zantac is a little more difficult, but can be accomplished through receipts, notes in your medical records or even basic corroborating evidence or statements from the people you live with that support the fact that you regularly took Zantac.

STEP 2: Confirm that you regularly used Zantac for a significant amount of time

Next, you will have to confirm that you regularly used Zantac for a significant amount of time. But what does that mean, precisely? There are numerous variables like the dosage you were using and how often you were taking the drug.

The answer is that in these types of cases there are very few hard and fast rules, despite what anyone tells you. It is early in the litigation and claim requirements do, and will, change as the science and claims develop. Right now, we can only go by what we believe the science and the law is telling us, and they indicate to us that to have a viable claim you will likely have to show that you were taking Zantac regularly (at least once a day or so), for a minimum of three months.

STEP 3: Confirm related diagnosis

In order to bring an individual claim, you have to show that you suffered an injury that can be attributed to your Zantac use (there are proposed medical monitoring claims for users without injuries, but most firms are not pursuing those claims). We have written quite a bit on how Zantac is believed to cause cancer. As everyone knows, all cancers are not the same and all cancers cannot be attributable to Zantac use. For example, a heavy smoker would be hard-pressed to link a lung cancer diagnosis to Zantac.

Again, the science and the claims are in their early stages and it is not yet completely clear which types of cancer can be definitively linked to Zantac use. Right now, we can only go by what we believe the science is telling us, and the science indicates to us at this point that to have a viable claim you will likely have to show a diagnosis of a primary cancer of the digestive tract (such as stomach, small intestine, colorectal, esophageal, liver, bladder, pancreatic), or a “blood” cancer (such as leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma).

Helpful hint: we have other blogs that go into some more detail here.

STEP 4: Confirm latency period

As you would expect, you will not be able to relate taking one dose of Zantac to being diagnosed the next day. There is a latency period from when you first started taking Zantac to when you first developed an injury. Once again, the science and claims are unsettled and different cancers have different latency periods. Right now, we believe the science is telling us that you will likely have to show at least one year of latency (a year passed between the time you first took Zantac and the time you developed an injury).

STEP 5: Contact an Attorney

Now that you have gone through the above steps and determined that you believe that Zantac is related to your diagnosis, you will want to get some legal advice. Two things to keep in mind: 1) make sure to talk to a law firm that specializes in Zantac cancer litigation; and 2) do not wait – there are different deadlines and statutes of limitations that apply to your claim. Do your homework and research the firm you will be working with – there is a good chance it will not be the same lawyer that handled your last speeding ticket, or one of the 800 numbers that flash across your television screen late at night. Put this on the top of your pile of things to do. Only bad things can happen if you wait too long to pursue a claim.

COPYRIGHT © 2023, STARK & STARKNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 10

About this Author

Martin P. Schrama, Stark Law, Intellectual Property and Litigation Law Attorney

Martin P. Schrama is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark's Commercial Litigation, Mass Tort, Intellectual Property and Green Litigation Groups. Mr. Schrama has extensive experience litigating on both the trial and appellate levels of the federal and state courts of New Jersey and New York, as well as numerous other jurisdictions throughout the nation in a pro hac vice capacity. This experience also extends to regular practice before AAA, JAMS and various other alternate dispute resolution fora.

The primary focus of Mr. Schrama’s practice is...

Stefanie Colella Walsh, Pharmaceutical Litigation Attorney, Stark Law Firm

Stefanie Colella-Walsh is a Shareholder and member of Stark & Stark’s Litigation, Insurance Coverage & Liability, Intellectual Property and Mass Torts Groups where she concentrates her practice in complex litigation with a focus in mass tort and pharmaceutical litigation. She also handles litigation related to nursing home negligence and abuse claims, elder abuse, and assisted living facility litigation.

Recently, Ms. Colella-Walsh was a member of the national trial team involved the first trial in the country of a TVT-Secur transvaginal...