Zantac Lawsuit Update

Our attorneys also provide the latest updates from the Zantac class action lawsuit (including the disastrous news of the class action judge dismissing all of the federal court Zantac lawsuits. This page was updated on June 14, 2024.

If you have a Zantac claim that was not filed or registered in the MDL, call 800-553-8082 or contact us online.

Zantac Cancer Lawsuit Updates 2024

  • June 14, 2024: Our law firm is back to accepting new Zantac lawsuits if you did not file a lawsuit or register your claim in the MDL.  This confirms what we have been telling you: this litigation is back on track.
  • June 3, 2024: In the best news in this litigation in a long time, a Delaware judge ruled that GSK, Pfizer, and other pharmaceutical companies must face state court trials for claims that their former heartburn drug Zantac causes cancer. Superior Court Judge Vivian Medinilla determined that the evidence presented by consumers is valid and warrants a jury’s assessment. Again, this impacts about 75,000 lawsuits that have been filed in Delaware following the federal case dismissals.
  • May 28, 2024: There are Zantac jury trials scheduled in Chicago for June, July, September, and November of 2024, and in Philadelphia starting in February of 2025.
  • May 24, 2024: A Chicago jury determined on Thursday that Zantac heartburn medication and its generic counterparts, sold by GlaxoSmithKline and Boehringer Ingelheim, are not responsible for an Illinois woman’s colon cancer and her subsequent debilitating symptoms. I was bracing you for this verdict in the last update, right?  Colon cancer cases will be difficult to win for sure, which is why they let this one go to verdict. It is unfortunate this woman will not get a recovery. She has certainly suffered a great deal. But it does not mean a lot in the overall scheme of the litigation.  Keep in mind colorectal cancer was not one of the diseases being pursued in the MDL because the link was not as strong as the five types of cancer that were being pursued.
  • May 23, 2024: Yesterday, Plaintiff’s attorneys asked for $640 million in compensation in the Chicago colon cancer Zantac lawsuit.  In their closing statement, they contended that the companies failed to warn consumers about the dangers of NDMA, a carcinogen found in Zantac, which the plaintiff took daily from 1996 to 2014. They accused the companies of failing to conduct long-term studies or warn consumers that refrigerating the drug or avoiding it at mealtimes could mitigate NDMA formation.  There should be a verdict today or tomorrow. From the perspective of the larger litigation, this is a relatively risk-free trial.  The science is not as strong on colon cancer as other conditions.  So it is easy to chalk it up as a tough case if the plaintiff loses.  But if plaintiff wins, the take-home message will be the liability case is so strong, any case that gets to a jury will be a win for plaintiff.  This could reignite the litigation and lead to more attorneys taking new cases again.
  • May 19, 2024: GSK is facing a whistleblower lawsuit that could potentially cost it billions of dollars, filed by the laboratory that revealed the presence of a probable carcinogen in Zantac.  The lawsuit alleges that GSK concealed Zantac’s cancer risks for decades while Medicare, Medicaid, and other government health programs covered prescriptions for the antacid.
  • May 10, 2024: The plaintiff in the Zantac trial that started last week is an 89-year-old. An Illinois woman who had been using over-the-counter Zantac for almost 20 years.  She was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2015.
  • May 8, 2024: Pfizer has reached agreements to settle more than 10,000 Zantac lawsuits, surpassing Sanofi’s recent settlement of 4,000 lawsuits. The companies want these lawsuits to go away. They have started a trial in a colorectal cancer lawsuit in Illinois, probably because that is not one of the stronger cancers linked to NDMA.  But even that is a risk they might bail out on and settle before a verdict.
  • We are also waiting to see what happens in Delaware, where nearly 75,000 lawsuits have been consolidated. If the judge lets those cases move forward—as we expect—there will likely be many more settlements to come.
  • May 2, 2024: In the first U.S. jury trial out of thousands of similar cases, lawyers for Angela Valadez, an 89-year-old Chicago woman, claim that drugmakers GSK Plc and Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH prioritized profits over safety by concealing the cancer risks of their heartburn medication, Zantac. Valadez, who used Zantac for 18 years, developed colorectal cancer and is now seeking $640 million in damages. Her lawyer alleges that GSK knew about the cancer risks shortly after developing Zantac in 1983 but failed to warn consumers, even withholding crucial study results from U.S. regulators for 37 years.  Pfizer settled its case with Valadez earlier. Sanofi is not named in her suit. I’m betting his case will not go to verdict.  I think GSK will pay whatever it takes to make this case go away.
  • April 22, 2024: Bloomberg is reporting Zantac settlement we talked about in our last update was for approximately $25,000 a case.  That is certainly way below – way below – what the original values of these claims were thought to be.
  • April 4, 2024: Sanofi SA has reached a settlement in approximately 4,000 lawsuits where it was accused of failing to warn that its Zantac heartburn medication could potentially cause cancer. This settlement, the first significant resolution regarding Zantac-related cases, is limited to litigations outside Delaware.  We are still waiting on the Daubert ruling in that case which involves 75,000 Zantac lawsuits. The exact terms and the financial implications for Sanofi remain undisclosed.  The defendants do not want to let one of these cases go to trial. (We will continue to provide Zantac news and updates because that is what we do. But we are still not taking new Zantac claims.)
  • February 29, 2024: Glaxo agreed to yet another confidential Zantac lawsuit settlement in California in Boyd/Steenvoord, a case headed for trial on April 2, 2014. The company has stated that this settlement demonstrates its preference to sidestep the disruptions associated with extended legal proceedings.  Another way of saying it?  The defendants are scared to take one of these lawsuits to trial.
  • February 2, 2024: Glaxo confirmed that a confidential settlement had been reached with David Browne, effectively resolving his Zantac lawsuit scheduled for trial on February 20, 2024.
  • February 1, 2024: Still waiting on Judge Medinilla’s ruling.  Lawyers are cautiously optimistic.
  • January 25, 2024: The Daubert hearing in Delaware ended yesterday.  Judge Vivian L. Medinilla will decide if this litigation continues in Delaware.
  • January 23, 2024: The Daubert hearing continues in Delaware and should conclude tomorrow. The ruling will be a big deal, one way or another.
  • January 19, 2024: The road recovery for the Zantac litigation runs through Delaware, at least for the short term.  If plaintiffs win the Daubert hearings that begin on Monday, it will be a whole new era in this litigation. Are our lawyers taking new cases again?  Not yet.
  • January 14, 2024: An appeal was noted in the Zantac MDL before the holidays.  This appeal is make or break for the 14,389 plaintiffs in the MDL.  Plaintiffs who did not file in the MDL will likely look to state court to pursue their claims.
  • October 18, 2023: The defendants will not risk letting any of these cases go to trial. Instead, we believe that the defendants are going to settle these cases prior to trial consistently. That is precisely what happened recently with a Zantac cancer case that was set to go to trial next month. It was announced this week that this case has been settled. Unfortunately, the settlement terms are confidential.
  • August 16, 2023:  Many cases in the MDL have been dismissed.  But there are still almost 15,000 lawsuits pending on the appeal as of yesterday.
  • August 14, 2023: The appeal to the 11th Circuit has been filed in the MDL.
  • July 19, 2023: The next Zantac lawsuit to go to trial will be on November 13, 2023, in California state court.
  • June 21, 2023: Sanofi is not required to compensate Boehringer Ingelheim for any potential losses in the Zantac lawsuits in the United States after an arbitration between the companies decision this week.  Still, these drug companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Sanofi, and Boehringer Ingelheim, face billions in exposure in potential settlement and verdict charges related to tens of thousands of remaining lawsuits in state court (and maybe a revived MDL).
  • June 1, 2023:  The next Zantac lawsuit is set to go to trial on July 24, 2023.  A win for plaintiffs would completely change the momentum in this litigation.
  • May 20, 2023: In Canada, the Supreme Court of British Columbia has ruled that a lawsuit against Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline lacked enough evidence to link the drug’s active ingredient, ranitidine, to cancer.
  • May 24, 2023:  A judge in Delaware has decided on how to proceed with 77,000 Zantac lawsuits filed in the state.  Delaware Superior Court Judge Vivian Medinilla issued a case management order that delineates a process for selecting bellwether plaintiffs and establishes a trial precisely to determine if Zantac causes various forms of cancer.
  • May 23, 2023: The federal court Zantac lawsuits were dismissed after a Daubert hearing in the MDL class action.  There is a Sargon hearing in California state court on Wednesday. Sargon and Daubert are the courts performing its “gatekeeping” function to exclude speculative and unreliable expert testimony, ensuring expert opinions are based on a sound foundation of facts and analysis. The court must ensure that the expert possesses appropriate qualifications and that the evidence or opinion offered is based on scientifically valid reasoning and methodology. We should have won the Daubert hearing in the MDL.  There is hope that this Sargon hearing will have a very different outcome.
  • May 8, 2023: The notice of appeal was sent to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal. Is it a long road from here?  Yes.
  • March 26, 2023: A state court judge in California judge has denied Glaxo’s request to exclude expert testimony linking the drug to cancer from an upcoming trial.  So the first Zantac trial is set for July 24, 2023.   The plaintiff in the case, California resident James Goetz, claims that he developed bladder cancer from taking the drug. GSK shares fell by 3.6% on Friday in response to the news, which is crazy because few legal analysts predicted Glaxo would win.  Still, this is a big win for plaintiffs who really needed a big win after a federal judge threw out all of the Zantac cases in U.S. federal court, finding the opinions of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses linking the drug to cancer were not backed by sound science. The ruling is on appeal, but there is not a lot of optimism.
  • February 26, 2023: What the Zantac lawsuits really need is a significant verdict to reset the momentum.  Well, now that will not happen.  The start of the first trial related to claims that GSK’s Zantac caused cancer- a bladder cancer case, which is the best claim we have – has been delayed by five months. James Goetz, a California resident who alleges that he developed bladder cancer from taking Zantac, was set to bring the case to trial on Monday. Now the trial is pushed back to July 24, 2023.
  • February 21, 2023: A judge in a Zantac cancer case in California is set to rule this week on the admissibility of expert evidence linking NDMA in Zantac to cancer. This is the same issue that led the Judge in the Zantac MDL to dismiss thousands of Zantac cases pending in federal courts. The case in California is set for trial next week. If the Judge allows the plaintiff to present his scientific causation evidence and the trial results in a victory for the plaintiff, it could breathe new life in the Zantac litigation.
  • February 3, 2023;  We often get asked about the prospects of success of the Zantac appeal.  Honestly, we think they are low.  The burden on appeal is a big hill to climb before one, some would argue, is a pro-defendant/pro-big business leaning court.  So if you had a filed case in the MDL or you are on the registry, you are in a tough spot.  We don’t want to convey false hope.  Your chances for justice are dwindling.  If you are not, and you have a new claim or a claim pending in state court, you are in a much stronger spot. State court judges have minds of their own, and they won’t mindlessly follow the opinion of a single judge.
  • January 27, 2023:  There will be a consolidated Zantac class action-type lawsuit, after all, albeit on a more limited scale.  The New York State Litigation Coordinating Panel consolidated 40 state court Zantac claims and said future Zantac lawsuits in New York will also be consolidated.
  • January 23, 2023:  There will be no registry appeals. The tolling on these claims “will expire on or about April 5, 2023.”  The judge will not – inexplicably to us – allow plaintiffs to bundle up complaints to perfect appeals.  This means that plaintiffs must file a regular lawsuit with a standard filing fee to maintain a claim for appeal.   Many lawyers and victims will not want to front this cost, and cases will be dismissed.  Even if plaintiffs prevail on appeal, those registry plaintiffs who have not filed a lawsuit will be time-barred from bringing suit.
  • January 17, 2023: The Zantac plaintiffs have a motion pending in the MDL that could significantly impact the fate of thousands of Zantac claimants. The MDL judge recently dismissed the 2,000 filed cases pending in the MDL based on a lack of admissible causation evidence.  That ruling is being appealed, but if the appeal is successful, only those 2,000 active cases will get reinstated. The issue is what will happen to the thousands of additional Zantac plaintiffs who opted to register claims without filing suit. These claimants will not benefit from the appeal unless they all pay the $400 filing fee and immediately file suit.  In reality, not every lawyer is willing to file a suit and front the filing fee in every case.  The current motion asks the MDL judge to allow these Zantac cancer claims to be bundled for the appeal so that they will not be lost while that appeal is pending. A hearing on the motion was held last week.  The judge needs to rule soon.

December 2022 Zantac Lawsuit Update

  • December 25, 2022: The Zantac lawsuits got some life this week when the defendants confirmed a confidential settlement in a California state court case. The case, Goetz v. GlaxoSmithKline, was headed for trial in the California Superior Court for Alameda County (Oakland) in February.  Sanofi and Pfizer settled the case, reminding us that not every state court judge will see this litigation the way Judge Rosenberg does. There are still many pending Zantac lawsuits in the state courts, including the consolidated proceedings in California.
  • December 7, 2022: Is everything always better after a night’s sleep?  As it turns out, not really.  What is next in the Zantac MDL class action? There will be an appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Will an appeal be successful?  We are hopeful, but that is hard to project. Cases that have not been filed or Zantac cancer lawsuits in state court in places like Illinois, California, Illinois, and Delaware will continue to move forward, hopefully with judges that have a less restrictive view of what is required to allow a jury to decide these claims.
  • December 6, 2022: Today, the federal judge overseeing the Zantac class action lawsuit has dismissed every Zantac claim the MDL. In a lengthy Order, the court ruled that the Plaintiffs failed to meet their scientific burden of proof showing that the NDMA in  Zantac increased the risk of developing cancer.  This is the worst possible outcome and could ultimately blow up this litigation.  Yes, plaintiffs will appeal to the 11th Circuit, and, yes, we think the trial judge’s ruling is incorrect. But this is a dark day in the Zantac litigation.

November 2022 Zantac Lawsuit Update

  • November 26, 2022:  Shortly after the hearing on the defendants’ motion to exclude the plaintiffs’ scientific causation evidence, MDL Judge Rosenberg took the somewhat usual step of allowing both sides to submit supplemental briefs on the issue. As of last week, all of those supplemental briefs have been submitted. Judge Rosenberg has not given any indication as to whether she will hold another hearing on the motion. During the first hearing, Rosenberg’s comments from the bench prompted many plaintiffs’ lawyers to fear that she might dismiss the causation evidence for all but a few cancer types. One way or the other, we should have a final decision within the next few months.
  • November 7, 2022: Last Friday, Judge Rosenberg issued an Order requiring both sides to file supplemental briefs on the admissibility of new expert witnesses. Judge Rosenberg recently allowed the plaintiffs to introduce these new experts to present the results of a recent epidemiological study on the link between Zantac and cancer.  Both sides will weigh in on how the latest research impacts the debate. This comes after Judge Rosenberg expressed significant concerns about the admissibility of the plaintiffs’ causation experts during last month’s Daubert motion hearings.  It is hard to imagine the judge dismissing these claims, and I think a dismissal would be vulnerable on appeal. But you can never predict what a single judge will do.  That is scary.

October 2022 Zantac Lawsuit Update

  • All eyes are on the MDL in Florida as we await the court’s Daubert rulings. But two state court Zantac lawsuits are moving forward.  A trial in California is set for February 2023, and another Zantac trial in Madison County, Illinois, is also set for February 2023.
  • Meanwhile, another study has shown the relationship between ranitidine and cancer in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health titled “Pharmacoepidemiological research on N-nitroso dimethylamine-contaminated ranitidine use and long-term cancer risk: A population-based longitudinal cohort study.”
  • Plaintiffs in the Zantac cancer lawsuits are asking the MDL judge to sanction defendant Sanofi-Aventis for deleting thousands of potentially relevant internal emails. The plaintiffs claim that this amounted to spoliation of evidence and ask the Court to grant an adverse inference against Sanofi as an appropriate sanction. A hearing on the motion could happen before the end of the year.

This study in Taiwan found that patients treated with ranitidine showed a statistically significant increased risk of many types of cancer, including gastric, liver, pancreatic, esophageal, and bladder cancer.

September 2022 Zantac Lawsuit Update

The Zantac Daubert hearings began today, September 21, 2022. Over the next three days, the Zantac MDL class action judge will hold Daubert hearings, which could determine the future of the Zantac class action lawsuit.

Daubert hearings are a pretrial procedure to determine whether expert evidence should be allowed to be presented in a case. This is the mechanism for the court to serve its “gatekeeping function, ” ensuring that only reliable and scientifically sound expert testimony can be presented to a jury.

In the Zantac litigation, the plaintiffs need expert testimony to prove their claims that they developed cancer from NDMA in Zantac. If the MDL Judge finds their expert opinions are not sufficiently reliable, the Zantac cancer lawsuits could be dismissed.

How Many Zantac Lawsuits Are There in September 2022?

There are over 2,000 plaintiffs with pending cases in the Zantac class action MDL. There are thousands of additional Zantac victims – probably around 52,000 or so – who have opted to file claims on the official MDL claim Registry. The Zantac claim Registry has enabled prospective plaintiffs to file claims for relief and avoid filing an actual lawsuit, but still be included in any global settlement. Earlier this month, the Zantac MDL Judge issued an Order announcing that the claim Registry will be closed as of September 14, 2022.

August 2022 Zantac Update

Two pieces of Zantac lawsuit news so far this month.

August 24, 2022 – Zantac Settlement Marker Is Set

This page is about expected Zantac settlement amounts and we have our first canary in the coal mine. Three generic Zantac makers paid $500,000 to settle a generic Zantac case a week before it was set to go to trial in Illinois state court. The plaintiff claimed that ranitidine use caused his esophageal cancer.

The settlement avoids a trial set to start next week. It would have been the first Zantac cancer case to go to trial. The fact that the defendants paid out $500,000 to settle the case and avoid going to trial next week is a very positive indication and could be a sign of things to come as the bellwether trials in the Zantac MDL get closer.

August 10, 2022 – Zantac Related Stocks Taking a Hit

The start of the bellwether trials in the Zantac MDL is right around the corner, and shares of big pharmaceutical companies named as defendants in the litigation have been down sharply this week.

These stocks are taking a hit because investors are becoming increasingly concerned about the cost of Zantac litigation charges that these companies will eventually absorb.

The Zantac class action lawsuit Zantac MDL has fewer than 3,000 pending cases. Still, as many as 50,000 claimants have registered claims that have been administratively filed to protect against the running of the statute of limitations.

The strength of the case against the defendants in the Zantac lawsuit and the sheer number of claims has the stock market worried that the settlement amounts in the Zantac class action will surpass the $11 billion already paid in the Roundup litigation.

July 2022 Zantac Update

Two big Zantac lawsuit developments this month.

Zantac Trials in State Court in California

Zantac lawsuits in federal court are our attorneys’ primary focus because those lawsuits will impact settlement amounts in these cases. But many Zantac lawsuits are also set for trial in state court in California. These Zantac suits are pending in Alameda County (Oakland) in 2023, with the first case set for trial in February.

This is helpful to push a Zantac settlement because settlement is usually the result of pressure from trial dates.  The evidence in any Zantac lawsuit that goes to trial is likely to be strong for the plaintiff.  A blowout verdict will push settlement amounts higher, which may be a risk the defendants choose not to take in these cases.

Cancers Other Than the Five Pursed in Zantac Class Action

This month, the Zantac MDL class action judge issued an Order clarifying that no “cancer-specific claims” have ever formally been dismissed from the MDL.

The Order was prompted by a motion filed pro se (without an attorney) last week by a plaintiff with a Zantac breast cancer claim who was recently advised that claims involving breast cancer (and other types of cancer) are not being pursued by the Plaintiff Leadership Committee (PSC) because of weak causation evidence. In denying the motion, Judge Rosenberg clarified that the final disposition of “non-designated cancer” (such as breast cancer) will be determined later.

June 2022 Zantac Update

Zantac Lawsuit Discovery Battles

To win a class action lawsuit, the lawyers must fight hard on the ground in pre-trial discovery.  What happens to prepare for trial is often more important than the trial itself.

The Zantac MDL plaintiffs recently filed a motion asking the court to compel the defendants (Sanofi and Chattem) to allow them to participate in the deposition of a Sanofi IT employee being held this week in the Zantac case in Illinois state court.

Since the start of the Zantac lawsuit, the plaintiffs have accused Sanofi of intentionally deleting relevant internal emails in violation of court orders.  Sanofi vigorously denies these allegations. A Sanofi IT employee is being deposed in the state court case and has direct knowledge of whether these emails were deleted. So Zantac lawyers in the class action want to talk to him.  On Tuesday, the Magistrate Judge in the Zantac MDL issued an order granting the request and allowing the MDL plaintiffs one hour in the deposition of the IT employee.

Daubert Fight Gets Rolling in June 2022

Last week, the defendants in the Zantac cancer lawsuits filed a motion challenging the admissibility of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses on causation. These types of motions seeking to disqualify a plaintiff’s expert witnesses are referred to as Daubert challenges.

Daubert motions are a widespread tactic used by defendants in all product liability lawsuits, but they are usually unsuccessful because the bar for disqualifying experts is very high.

The Zantac plaintiffs will have an opportunity to file a response to the motion, and the MDL has already scheduled a hearing on the Daubert challenges for September.

The Pace of Zantac Class Action Lawsuit

With the bellwether test trials still on track to begin in October, the pace of new Zantac cancer lawsuits has slowed dramatically. Only ten new Zantac cases were transferred into the MDL last month, and only eight new cases were added in the previous month. Those new cases are offset by dismissing five pending claims, leaving the total number of plaintiffs in the Zantac MDL at 2,106 as of June 15, 2022.

Less Filed Zantac Lawsuits in June 2022

Why has the pace of new Zantac claims slowed down?  When the Zantac lawsuit was filed, the statute of limitations had not passed for many older claims because there is an exception to the statute of limitations when the victim could not know that Zantac caused their injury.

With Zantac, many victims died of cancer long before information in the public domain connected the drug to NDMA and cancer.  So our Zantac lawyers saw viable Zantac lawsuits where the death or cancer diagnosis was some time ago.

Now, the statute of limitations has passed for many of the older Zantac claims.  In most states, the new viable Zantac lawsuits are mostly claims where there is a new cancer diagnosis or death – within the last two or three years.  This is a smaller number of cases which is why fewer claims are being added to the Zantac class action lawsuit.

May 2022 Zantac Update

From Day 1, our Zantac attorneys have been saying the Zantac lawsuit will be won or lost in the battle of the experts.  So lawyers on both sides will fight hard over every last detail.

The parties are fighting right about whether plaintiffs’ lawyers can use a rebuttal expert, Dr. Mira M. Hidajat, to defend her study demonstrating that NDMA can cause cancer. This peer-reviewed study has been relied upon by plaintiffs’ experts and criticized by defense experts.

The judge held a hearing on Friday on the issue but has yet to rule. We expect more of these discovery skirmishes as lawyers prepare for trial in five months.

Pretrial Order with Zantac Lawsuit Deadlines

In other Zantac class action lawsuit news in May 2022, Zantac MDL Judge Robin Rosenberg issued Pretrial Order #77, which lays out the briefing deadlines and hearing schedule for pretrial dispositive motions from either side.

The deadline for defense motions will be June 13, with hearings set for September 20. The plaintiffs’ motion deadline will be July 6, with hearings on those motions scheduled for September 28. These deadlines suggest we are still on track for the first Zantac bellwether lawsuit to go to trial in October.

April 2022 Zantac Update

There are four Zantac lawsuit updates this month that you should know about:

  1. At the start of April, the Zantac MDL Judge issued Pretrial Order # 75 to amend the duties and responsibilities of the Special Master (Hon. Bruce E. Reinhart) assigned to the MDL. This order underscores that we are not far from the first Zantac lawsuit to trial in October 2022.  The Court explained that the focus of the Zantac litigation has moved from general causation discovery to expert witness discovery and trial preparation. The new duties of the Special Master will reflect this gear shift into litigation mode.
  2. The Magistrate Judge in the Zantac MDL granted a motion by the defendants requesting approval of additional time to complete the depositions of five key expert witnesses for the plaintiffs.  These are all causation witnesses.  These witnesses connect Zantac and the five types of cancer being pursued in the Zantac class action lawsuit.  Our Zantac lawyers believe victims will win these lawsuits at trial if the science connects NDMA and their specific cancer.  In a paperless order entered on March 18, Judge Reinhardt granted five additional hours for the deposition of Dr. Anne McTiernan and three extra hours each for the depositions of four other expert witnesses for the plaintiffs.

March 2022 Zantac Update

  1. At the suggestion of Co-Lead Counsel, the judge in the Zantac MDL issued an Order on March 8, 2022, announcing membership changes and new appointments for the Zantac lawyers’ leadership structure in the MDL class action. The Plaintiffs’ Leadership Steering Committee (PSC) was expanded with nine new members, including all five members of the original Leadership Development Committee (LDC), who were elevated to the PSC. A new LDC was formed with a slate of 12 younger lawyers with less MDL experience who were suggested by the Plaintiffs’ Co-Lead Counsel.
  2. No MDL has used a class action registry process more extensively than the Zantac MDL. Plaintiffs were allowed to preserve their Zantac claim without the traditional court papers for a lawsuit. This cut down on filing fees, and pretrial discovery obligations and generally made a Zantac lawsuit easy to bring.

The Zantac MDL judge believed strongly the registry system was the best way to organize the Zantac Litigation. But now Judge Rosenberg thinks that we have reached a point in the Zantac class action that it is time to put a bow on this mechanism and finalize the registry information for all plaintiffs.

This is a good development that underscores that we may be in the final innings of this lawsuit before the defendants offer settlement amounts to victims to resolve this litigation.

February 2022 Zantac Update

The Zantac MDL steering committee now only intends to pursue five types of cancer in MDL-2924:

  1. Bladder
  2. Liver
  3. Pancreatic
  4. Stomach
  5. Esophageal

All five types of cancer should survive a Daubert motion to dismiss.  The least likely Zantac lawsuit to be dismissed?  Claims that alleged NDMA in Zantac caused their bladder cancer.  The science is solid on these Zantac cancer claims.  But the evidence for the other four types of cancer is also quite strong.

The selection of the initial pool of Zantac plaintiffs, who will be candidates for the opening bellwether trials, is underway. Lawyers for the plaintiffs recently filed a motion asking the MDL judge to protect the privacy right of these potential bellwether plaintiffs when they are required to produce their medical records in the discovery process. The motion asks the court to order the redaction of information relating to mental health, sexual abuse, and substance abuse from the medical records.

January 2022 Zantac Update

The Zantac class action lawsuit now involves eight types of cancer diagnoses:  bladder, colorectal/intestinal, esophageal, gastric, liver, lung, pancreatic, and prostate.  The most notable exclusions from this are breast cancer and kidney cancer.  These claims are no longer being litigated in the federal MDL Zantac lawsuit.

Our Zantac cancer lawyers are now handling only five types of cancer listed above (our Zantac lawyers saw where it was going, which is why we reduced to those five diagnosed cancers before it was announced in the MDL).

December 2021 Zantac Update

Last Thursday and Friday, the MDL Judge in the Zantac lawsuit MDL in the Southern District of Florida held a pair of science days.

A science day is when attorneys for plaintiffs and defendants educate the court about the medical and scientific evidence underlying their positions.

In the Zantac lawsuits, each party brought two medical experts to educate the judge on its view on science in these cases.  Ultimately, the MDL judge absorbs all this information with an eye toward whether credible science supports these Zantac cancer claims.

So for the lawyers, it is also a sneak preview of the science the judge will rule on as the lawsuit progress.  How the judge views the science in these cases is the most critical issue to the ultimate settlement amounts for victims than anything else in the Zantac lawsuits.  The stakes are that high.

The science day presentations try (unsuccessfully) to be non-adversarial.  This science day focused on terms and concepts related to the scientific debate about the link between NDMA in Zantac and certain types of cancer.  The defense position is that while NDMA might cause cancer, there was not enough in Zantac to cause cancer in individual people, and there is no scientific proof that but/for Zantac, the plaintiffs would not have gotten cancer without Zantac.  The plaintiffs’ Zantac lawyers see this issue differently.

November 2021 Zantac Trials (Sort of) Set

In November 2021, the MDL judge finalized the process of selecting cases for initial Zantac bellwether trials has been initiated. An initial pool of 200 cases will be established from Zantac cases pending in Florida. The Florida Zantac cases have been categorized into eight groups based on the type of cancer alleged by the plaintiff. A computer will randomly select twenty-five cases from each of the eight different cancer-type groups.

The resulting pool of 200 cases will go through a fact discovery and vetting process to eliminate cases that do not meet specific criteria. This process will be completed by August 1, 2022, bellwether trial cases will be selected from the remaining pool.

Zantac Cancer Lawsuit

Zantac (ranitidine) is an antacid that has been around since the 1980s and is available in prescription and over-the-counter forms. GlaxoSmithKline initially developed and released Zantac, but it was widely available in generic versions manufactured by various companies.

Zantac was used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease and peptic ulcer disease. The drug was popular because it worked. But Zantac contained a hidden carcinogenic chemical. This has led to thousands of Zantac lawsuits by people who regularly used the drug and were subsequently diagnosed with cancer.  There are more than 2100 Zantac lawsuits in federal court as of June 2022.  But there are probably 30,000 more Zantac cancer claims where the patient has not filed a lawsuit but has used a procedural mechanism that allows Zantac patients to “file suit” without officially filing a Zantac lawsuit.

zantac settlementIn 2017, Zantac was used regularly by 15 million people in the U.S. Many of these Zantac users took the drug every day for long periods under the assumption that it was perfectly safe.

In 2018, random quality testing found that the popular drug contained very high levels of a chemical called NDMA (N-Nitrosodimethylamine). NDMA is highly toxic to the human body and is a known carcinogen. The levels of NDMA in Zantac were so high that the FDA issued a public safety warning, and Zantac was promptly pulled off retail shelves across the country.

This quickly led to a wave of Zantac lawsuits by individuals claiming that their exposure to NDMA in Zantac caused them to develop cancer. Zantac lawsuits have been filed and consolidated into a Zantac MDL in the District of New Jersey.

The Core Zantac Claims

These Zantac suits claim the defendants could have tested Zantac for NDMA, warned the FDA, doctors, and Zantac patients of the concerns they should have had, shortened expiration dates, packaged this drug differently, and stored and transported Zantac at moderate heat and humidity levels.

The defendants should have known of the risk of NDMA in Zantac.  The drug’s molecular structure would have put a reasonable drug manufacturer on notice of the drug’s propensity to degrade into NDMA. N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) is formed from N-nitroso (N) and Dimethylamine (DMA), and Zantac has both. So without any other compounds, it can degrade to produce NDMA.

Studies were also available to alert the defendants that heat and humidity could further compound the problem.  The degradation with moisture or high temperatures can occur externally and inside a Zantac patient’s stomach.  Moreover, Zantac, in combination with high nitrate foods, can cause further degradation, producing cancer-causing NDMA.

So the core of these claims is that Zantac breaks down into NDMA, and the defendants should have warned about the problem and issued a Zantac recall much sooner.  Zantac turns into NDMA after it is produced.  It breaks down in the Zantac patient’s stomach. It breaks down in combination with certain foods.  It breaks down in the presence of heat and moisture.  It even breaks down with the mere passage of time.  So there is a cumulative effect of how NDMA degrades to cause cancer.

So let’s break that down for an individual Zantac patient.  Zantac is typically taken one to two tablets of Ranitidine a day for years. One tablet of Zantac can contain over 3,000 times the FDA-acceptable daily limit of NDMA.  So Zantac users were too staggering doses of NDMA over an extended period. Is anyone surprised that over 70,000 brought a Zantac claim alleging the drug caused their cancer?

Zantac Lawsuits Should Be Resolved in a Global Settlement

[Note: this was written before the MDL judge dismissed the federal court cases.]Our attorneys don’t know precisely what lawsuit individual settlement compensation payouts might be at this stage. But we can be certain that they will eventually be resolved in a global settlement. This is how all consolidated mass torts eventually get resolved (if they are not dismissed – that is not an unimportant caveat). (Update: that caveat now looms large in 2023, as we discuss above.)

Since the formation of the Zantac MDL in 2019, the MDL judge has presided over a consolidated civil discovery process while more Zantac cases have continued to be filed. The discovery phase has focused on developing scientific causation evidence on both sides.

The discovery phase of the Zantac litigation will conclude next year, and then the litigation will move into the bellwether trial phase. This is where jury trials are held in a handful of sample Zantac cases.

The results of these test trials are used to facilitate settlement negotiations in which the defendants agree to pay a sum of money to resolve most of the Zantac lawsuits (except for the opt-outs). In mass torts, this is called a “global settlement.”

Example Zantac Lawsuit

For context, let’s look at a newly filed Zantac lawsuit for an example of the facts you will see in one of these claims.

New York resident Bennett Cohen became one of the newest plaintiffs in the Zantac litigation.  Cohen filed a Complaint against a group of 13 defendants, including brand-names Zantac manufacturers and generic ranitidine manufacturers. The Complaint was filed directly in the Zantac MDL in the Southern District of Florida.

Cohen’s Complaint alleges that he regularly used brand-name Zantac and generic ranitidine in prescription and over-the-counter forms from 1995 to 2012. Cohen asserts that his regular use of Zantac and ranitidine over these 17 years directly led to his prostate cancer diagnosis in 2011.  That is exceptionally long-term use which means this man’s cumulative exposure to ranitidine hydrochloride over time was likely very high.

Cohen now joins a group of 2,100 plaintiffs with pending cases in the Zantac MDL. Over 80,000 additional prospective plaintiffs have registered Zantac claims but have not yet filed their lawsuits (although many of them have now been dismissed). Bennett’s case was filed because the statute of limitations on his claims would have expired.

(Update: This case will be dismissed like all other cases in the MDL unless the MDL judge’s ruling is overturned, as discussed in the December 2022 updates above.)

What Will Zantac  Settlement Amounts Look Like?

Here is a simplified summary of how global settlements work out in most mass torts like the Zantac litigation. Let’s say Acme Pharmaceutical is defending 20,000 lawsuits by plaintiffs claiming that Acme’s new drug caused them to develop cancer. After two years of consolidated discovery, 10 of the 20,000 cases are selected for “bellwether trials.” The plaintiffs pick 5 cases and Acme chooses 5 cases.

The first 3 of these bellwether cases go to trial. The first trial resulted in a $20 million verdict for the plaintiff. The second trial resulted in a defense verdict. The third trial ended with a $5 million verdict. Following the 3rd trial, Acme announces that it is ready to negotiate a settlement, with the remaining trials put on hold. Six months later, the MDL judge approved a global settlement under which Acme agrees to pay a total sum of $5 billion to settle all 20,000 pending cases.

If the $5 billion were divided evenly, each plaintiff would receive a gross payout of $250,000. But the settlement arrangement includes a complicated tiered points system in which each plaintiff is ranked based on the severity of their injuries. For the Zantac lawsuits, it would be the length of Zantac usage, the age of the plaintiff, and other factors. Plaintiffs ranked in the highest tiers get larger payouts and those in the lower settlement tiers get smaller settlement payouts.

This is an overly simplified example of what the global settlement in the Zantac litigation should eventually look like. The only thing we don’t know at this point is how much the defendants will have to pay out for the settlement.

The size of any individual Zantac settlement payout will depend on

    1. how many Zantac lawsuits are pending at the time (how many cancers survive pretrial motions),
    2. how strong the causation evidence is, and
    3. the results of the first bellwether ranitidine trials.

Of course, with the MDL on life support, this calculus has changed a little bit.  But we still have an expert left now.  The big issue that impacts most victims is what will happen in Delawar where nearly 75,000 await a court ruling on expert viability (Daubert).

Did the Defendants Know That Zantac Could Cause Cancer?

When Zantac came to market, there was already medical literature that Zantac, which has dimethylamine (“DMA”), could form NDMA, when combined with other substances.

Specifically, nitrate in our bodies could supply the “N” to turn DMA into NDMA.  Bacteria and enzymes in the body reduce the nitrates found in food into nitrites, and many foods and preservatives contain nitrates.

So the defendant knew or should have known from the beginning that the DMA in Zantac could develop into NDMA.

How Awful Is NDMA for You?

NDMA is pure poison.  This organic chemical forms in both industrial and natural processes. It is an N-nitrosamines, a family of potent carcinogens.  The risk of NDMA has been long understood.  Over 40 years ago, we learned that NDMA causes cancer in nearly every laboratory animal exposed to the chemical.

Is NDMA in Zantac from a Manufacturing Error?

A manufacturing defect does not cause the high levels of NDMA from Zantac.  NDMA is a natural consequence of ingesting ranitidine, the active ingredient in Zantac. The Ranitidine molecule contains NDMA, and nitrate is also in Zantac and is also produced by the body. So every dosage of Zantac exposed the user to NDMA.

What Happens Now That the Zantac MDL Has Been Dismissed?

Plaintiffs have already noted their appeal of the MDL judge ruling dismissing all federal court Zantac lawsuits Victims who had not yet filed in the MDL will look for justice in state courts. Our law firm, like most firrms, is not accepting new Zantac cases.

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