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What is the Deal With Zantac Cancer Lawsuits and Settlements?

What is Zantac (ranitidine)?

You have seen a lot of commercials and have probably been searching the internet for some straightforward explanations about Zantac Cancer Lawsuits and Settlements.

Very simply, Zantac is the brand name of a common heartburn medication called ranitidine. Zantac (ranitidine) is a type of drug known as an H2 blocker, or H2 antagonist, which decreases stomach acid by blocking histamine receptors in the stomach. It can be used to treat peptic ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and related conditions.

Does Zantac cause cancer?

Based upon recent testing by a popular independent laboratory and a resulting petition filed with the FDA, there are claims that Zantac (ranitidine) causes high levels of Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) exposure in patients. Essentially, the claims are that, aside from this testing, recent studies have confirmed that the unstable molecules of the medication break down in the digestive tract to create harmful levels of NDMA (especially if the ranitidine comes into contact with nitrites in the digestive tract). Based upon these claims, significant NDMA exposure could result from taking brand name or generic ranitidine products, regardless of where they were manufactured.

NDMA is listed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a compound that is probably carcinogenic to humans, and by the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) as a compound reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen. In fact, NDMA is actually used in the research laboratory setting to induce cancer in rats.

Similar types of NDMA exposure have been linked to various primary cancers, including:

  • Stomach

  • Small intestine

  • Colorectal

  • Esophageal

  • Liver

And, in more limited circumstances:

  • Prostate (early onset)

  • Pancreatic

  • Leukemia

  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

  • Multiple Myeloma

Despite these very troubling findings, the FDA had a relatively restrained reaction and suggested that some of the high NDMA levels may have been produced by the testing methods employed (basically saying that the samples were subject to high temperatures during testing that may have caused the ranitidine to break down into NDMA). Many experts sharply disagree with the FDA’s initial position and, indeed, manufacturers and distributors have engaged in massive voluntary recalls and been forced to conduct their own ongoing testing. Further, numerous lawsuits have already been filed across the nation and are set to be consolidated into a Multidistrict Litigation.

Do I qualify for a Zantac Cancer Lawsuit or Settlement?

First, to potentially qualify for a Zantac cancer lawsuit or settlement, you have to prove use. That means that you have to show that you took Zantac (or another form of ranitidine). If you took prescription ranitidine, this can be easily proven by asking for a copy of your pharmacy records. Proving use of over-the-counter Zantac or another ranitidine product is a little more involved, but can be accomplished through receipts, notes in medical records or even basic corroborating evidence or statements that support the fact that you regularly took Zantac (ranitidine) for an extended period of time.

Second, you have to show an injury. That means that you will need to show that you have been diagnosed with one or more of the primary cancers listed above. Again, this can be easily proven by asking for a copy of your medical records (you can contact your doctor or hospital to get a copy of your records, or you can enlist the help of a law firm to help you do that).

Third, and this part gets a little complicated, there has to be some proof that your Zantac (ranitidine) use and cancer diagnosis can be related. There are a lot of different factors that go into this, but it is generally what you would expect. For example, taking higher doses of Zantac (ranitidine) more frequently is more helpful in proving a relationship, than sporadic use of lower dosages of Zantac (ranitidine). In addition, there is the issue of latency – also along the lines of what you would expect in that you will obviously not be able to relate taking one dose of Zantac (ranitidine) and being diagnosed the next day. All of this comes down to a weighing of factors and the fairly worthless sounding advice you will hear from most attorneys: “it depends.” That being said, the majority of the experts we deal with say that they are looking for at least a year of significant exposure (you took Zantac regularly for a year), and at least a year of latency (about a year passed between the time you first took Zantac and the time you developed one of the listed primary cancers).

 

COPYRIGHT © 2020, STARK & STARKNational Law Review, Volume IX, Number 344

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About this Author

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

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...

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Stefanie Colella Walsh, Pharmaceutical Litigation Attorney, Stark Law Firm
Shareholder

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 mesh device case against Ethicon/Johnson and Johnson. 

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