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Can Zantac Cause Colon Cancer?

zantac-colon-cancer-lawyer-claims The popular heartburn drug Zantac has been linked to thousands of cases of cancer.

What the general public did not know over decades of taking Zantac is that the popular heartburn medication contains a substance that has been classified as a probable human carcinogen.

Now, the companies that made Zantac and generic ranitidine are being held accountable in court for serious injuries that people suffered from these drugs.

If you or a loved one have developed cancer after taking Zantac, call our law office for a free consultation. Our personal injury attorneys are ready to help.

Zantac Treated Acid Reflux for Decades

Zantac was introduced in the United States in 1986. Immediately, customers were bombarded with advertisements from the drug makers. Within three years, the drug did over $1 billion in sales.

By the time that the patent protection expired, there were scores of companies ready to sell generic ranitidine products to capitalize on Zantac's popularity.

Zantac functioned as an H2 blocker. H2 refers to an organic nitrogenous compound that regulates physiological functions in the gut. It is involved in the production of acid. Zantac blocks the histamine from producing acid.

Different heartburn medications act in varying ways to block acid. For example, Nexium targets acid production by inhibiting proton pumps that make acid.

What Is Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA)

NDMA is a substance that has both been produced industrially and occurs naturally. It is a yellow odorless liquid that has been used in jet fuel and as an industrial lubricant. These days, it is no longer industrially produced, but you can still find NDMA in many places.

NDMA is found in things like smoked foods and alcohol. It even finds its way into the local water supply. While we will describe the dangers of NDMA below, not every single exposure is harmful to your health. There is a daily maximum intake that you can have (not that people would intentionally expose themselves to NDMA) without any health effects.

The problem is that Zantac exposed patients to levels of NDMA that far exceeded the limit, and people were exposed to a probable carcinogen every single day.

Ranitidine Products Were Found to Contain NDMA

There were years of reports that ranitidine was tainted with NDMA. Safety concerns were raised about Zantac even before the drug was sold in the United States. These research findings continued for decades.

One 2011 study found that ranitidine in drinking water had the strongest potential of forming NDMA during chlorine disinfection, Another study in that same year found that ranitidine was a "precursor" to NDMA.

Years later, a small online pharmacy called Valisure made it one of its primary purposes to test the safety of consumer products. The company stepped up its efforts after there were reports of a popular blood pressure medication that was found to contain NDMA.

After a recommendation to the CEO, Valisure tested Zantac and found what many scientists already know; that there was a higher risk of developing cancer due to the presence of NDMA in ranitidine medications.

NDMA Exposure From Taking Zantac

Exposure to NDMA came from the active ingredient of Zantac. Since the results of an online pharmacy's testing were released, researchers have studied how prescription Zantac and over the counter ranitidine medications came to contain NDMA.

The prevailing theory is that ranitidine medications make their own NDMA, and the substance is not introduced as a result of a defect in the manufacturing process (as it was in Valsartan).

The theory is that ranitidine itself is an inherently unstable substance. Over time, and particularly when exposed to heat, NDMA can form from ranitidine. This finding is evidenced by the fact that ranitidine that was stored for longer periods had higher levels of NDMA.

Exposure to NDMA Was Far Higher Than Previously Thought

Initially, the Food and Drug Administration tried to downplay the results of Valisure's initial testing. The FDA did not order a recall and tried to go out of its way to assure the public that Zantac and generic ranitidine medications were not dangerous.

They claimed that the level of NDMA in Zantac was no higher than foods that may be in a consumer's daily diet. However, there were citizen petitions and a drumbeat of pressure for the FDA to take action.

In retrospect, the FDA could not have been more wrong. After Zantac was completely pulled from the market. Valisure performed additional tests that showed the exact danger that Zantac was, both of colorectal cancer and to the digestive system.

Valisure simulated the conditions of the stomach and found that the levels of NDMA found in the stomach acid were over 300 times the allowable daily limit. The tests found that the NDMA levels spiked within two hours of taking Zantac, meaning that Zantac itself could make its own NDMA while in the gastrointestinal tract.

Drug Makers No Longer Sell Zantac Because of the Cancer Risk

Immediately after the first reports of NDMA in Zantac, drug makers began to pull the product from the market. Drug stores and pharmacies also took the product off the shelf, knowing full well that they bear the same legal responsibility for selling the product as the pharmaceutical companies.

By the time the FDA finally got around to a full recall of Zantac, it was practically completely off the store shelf. The recall completed the fall of Zantac from a billion-dollar drug to one that will never be sold again. Healthcare providers have switched to recommending famotidine or proton pump inhibitors to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease.

How Health Agencies View NDMA Exposure

According to the World Health Organization, “NDMA consumption is positively associated with either gastric or colorectal cancer." At other times, the agency has called NDMA a "potent carcinogen."

The Environmental Protection Agency has done its own work studying the effects of NDMA. In one study performed for the EPA, the authors noted that "[w]e observed an increase in bladder cancer risk among men who reported taking either of these medications."

Not only is there a cancer risk, but NDMA can also cause other damage. In one study done for the EPA, the researchers noted a risk of liver damage after exposure to NDMA.

Why Zantac Causes Colorectal Cancer

NDMA is eliminated through the body through both the urinary tract and the digestive tract. When a consumer orally ingested a toxic substance, it comes into contact with their internal organs. For the patient, it means that NDMA could cause tumors all the way from the esophagus to the rectum.

Food and drugs spend most of their time in the stomach and the colon before the body eliminates the waste. The colon is continuously exposed and comes into direct contact with a substance that is considered a likely carcinogen.

The Prognosis for Colorectal Cancer

For all stages of colon cancer, the combined five-year survival rate is 64%. If the cancer is localized when it is found, the five-year survival rate is 91%. That rate falls to 14% when the colon cancer is distant. The five-year survival rate for regional colon cancer is 72%.

Typical treatment for colon cancer involves surgery to remove the tumor and part of the colon. The patient may also need radiation treatment and chemotherapy, depending on whether the cancer has spread.

Other Types of Cancer Caused by Zantac

There is a positive association between Zantac and both cancers of the digestive system and urinary tract. Here are some of the other types of cancer that have been connected to Zantac use:

  • Rectal cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Gastric cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Esophageal Cancer

Zantac Multidistrict Litigation Is in Full Swing

Immediately after the news of Valisure's initial testing results was released, injured plaintiffs who were diagnosed with colon cancer and other types of cancer began to file lawsuits against the companies that made and sold Zantac and ranitidine products.

Eventually, there were enough of these Zantac cancer lawsuits to allow for consolidation into a multidistrict lawsuit. The case is currently in federal court in Florida, and it is working its way through the discovery process. The parties are in the process of selecting bellwether cases that will go to trial at some point in 2023.

As of this writing, there are over 2,000 lawsuits that are part of the multidistrict litigation. We expect this number to grow substantially. Many potential plaintiffs have yet to be sickened or notice symptoms because cancer caused by Zantac could take years to develop.

The Legal Grounds in a Zantac Lawsuit

There are two primary grounds that injured consumers have been relying on in their product liability lawsuits, in addition to the usual negligence and breach of warranty claims.

The main lawsuit grounds are:

  • Zantac and generic ranitidine are effectively designed because they rely on an active ingredient that can morph into a substance that raises cancer risk
  • The makers of Zantac and generic ranitidine knew or should have known that these products resulted in an increased risk of cancer. Even if they did not do their own work in studying the dangers of their own product, they were certainly aware of the drumbeat of scientific literature that detailed the potential for their products to form NDMA. Accordingly, they should have warned the public of the risks if they chose to continue selling the product.

Damages in a Zantac Lawsuit

If you or a loved one have taken Zantac and received a cancer diagnosis, you may be able to the following compensation if you can prove that Zantac was defective:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Emotional distress

How Personal Injury Lawyers Help Your Zantac Lawsuit

The first thing that you will do is sign up for a free consultation with an attorney for your Zantac lawsuit. Your attorney will review your case and describe the legal path forward.

They will review your medical records in an attempt to connect your Zantac use to your current serious injuries. Then, your attorney would draft a complaint that would lay out your grounds for a lawsuit.

In a mass tort case, your attorney may do the following for you:

  • Draft a complaint and file it with the court
  • Take your case to trial if there is no settlement agreement
  • Look out for your interests while the multidistrict litigation is proceeding
  • Help you secure enough compensation from the global settlement fund if there is a settlement

Contact a Zantac Lawsuit Attorney

To file a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death claim, call Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers for a free case evaluation. A Zantac cancer attorney will review the facts of your case and help you take legal action against the drug manufacturers who were responsible for your increased risk of cancer.

To schedule your free consultation, call us at (800) 424-5757 or reach out to us online. You have a limited amount of time to file a Zantac cancer lawsuit. We can help you get justice for cancer linked to Zantac.

Frequently Asked Questions About Zantac Lawsuits

Here are the answers to some questions we receive from clients who are interested in filing a Zantac lawsuit:

How Long Will My Zantac Lawsuit Take?

Product liability lawsuits take some time to unfold. The first cases in the litigation are not scheduled to go to trial until the latter part of 2023.

At this point, you can count on your Zantac lawsuit taking around two years unless the defendants settle the cases first. You should be patient and let your lawyer do their job in fighting for your financial compensation.

How Will I Pay My Zantac Attorney?

Money is not something that you need to worry about when you are looking for legal help. Not only do you get a free consultation, but you do not owe any money until we are able to help you win your case.

If you are not successful, we will not send you a bill for our time and services. If you do win your case, we will receive a percentage of your settlement or jury award.

Who Can I Sue After Being Diagnosed With Colon Cancer?

In any product liability case, you have the legal right and ability to see any entity that was involved in the process of making or selling the product from start to finish. Usually, you would sue the drug manufacturer, but you can also sue the store where you bought the Zantac.

There have been cases where plaintiffs have sued stores like CVS or Target for defective drugs that they bought there. After all, there is a reason why these stores were quick to clear Zantac from their shelves once the news of NDMA exposure reached the public.

What If I Have a Family History of Colorectal Cancer?

It does not matter whether you have a family history of cancer or a previous condition like Crohn's disease that makes you more susceptible to a cancer diagnosis. In any personal injury case, the rule of thumb is that you take the victim as you find them, meaning that the defendant bears the risk of a preexisting condition or something that may predispose the patient to cancer.

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