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Zantac and Cancer: the Plot Thickens

The potential issues with Zantac just became a little more complicated. Zantac is the brand name of a common heartburn medication called ranitidine. As we have reported, there have been multiple, and ongoing, recalls of ranitidine after testing of lots of the drug showed unacceptable levels of the probable human carcinogen N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).

Initially, it was thought that the ranitidine/NDMA connection was related to similar recalls of the popular blood pressure medications Valsartan, Losartan, and Irbesartan. However, based upon recent testing by a popular independent laboratory and resulting petition filed with the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), there are now claims that ranitidine, itself, causes high levels of NDMA exposure in patients. Essentially, the claims are that the unstable ranitidine molecule breaks down under certain conditions, including those in the human digestive tract, to create harmful levels of NDMA. Thus, significant NDMA exposure would result from taking brand name or generic ranitidine, regardless of where it was manufactured.

This type of NDMA exposure has been linked to various cancers, including:

  • Stomach

  • Small intestine

  • Colorectal

  • Esophageal

  • Liver

  • Bladder

And, in more limited circumstances:

  • Prostate

  • Pancreatic

  • Leukemia

  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

  • Multiple Myeloma

  • Kidney

So far, testing of alternatives to ranitidine, such as Pepcid, Tagamet, Nexium, Prevacid, and Prilosec, do not show the same NDMA exposure potentials.

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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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