Zantac Liver Cancer Lawsuit
Zantac was one of the best-selling pharmaceutical products in American history. We talk about Zantac in the past tense because it is no longer found on any store shelves.
Patients who have taken Zantac or other ranitidine products for a prolonged period of time have a higher risk of developing liver cancer because of a cancer-causing chemical called N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) that was found in the product.
If you or a loved one have developed liver cancer or suffered severe liver damage, our law firm can help. Call us today to schedule your free consultation to discuss a Zantac lawsuit.
The Rise and Fall of the Heartburn Medication Zantac
Zantac immediately became one of the highest-selling drugs in the country almost as soon as it was introduced. Within two years, Zantac was doing over $1 billion in sales each year (in 1986 dollars!).
The drug stood near the top of sales lists for decades. Once the patent protection expired, generic companies began to pile into the market.
Eventually, proton pump inhibitors cut into Zantac's dominance of the market, and the new treatment alternatives toppled Zantac's place as the dominant heartburn medication. Still, ranitidine products were doing billions of dollars of sales when trouble hit for Zantac.
How Taking Zantac Worked
The active ingredient in Zantac was ranitidine. This is a histamine-2 blocker that is meant to reduce acid production in the stomach.
Ranitidine products were used to treat the following types of conditions:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome
In general, ranitidine helps patients who have conditions related to acid indigestion.
NDMA in Ranitidine
Between Valisure, the drug companies and the retailers themselves, they reacted relatively quickly only when news of the NDMA contamination became known.
Lawsuits allege that pharmaceutical companies that made Zantac and generic ranitidine knew that their products contained a cancer causing agent long before that.
An Online Pharmacy Tests the Heartburn Medication Zantac
It was not the FDA or the drug companies themselves that focused attention on the problem of liver cancer and severe liver problems caused by ranitidine. Instead, it was an online pharmacy called Valisure that performed the public service of alerting the public of this serious problem.
Valisure's method is that it buys pharmaceutical products and independently tests them. The company is committed to public safety, and it has found contamination in many popular pharmaceutical products.
Here, Valisure bought several lots of Zantac and ranitidine-based drugs and tested them on its own. It released the results in September 2020. The conclusion that Zantac was tainted by NDMA was the beginning of the end for this iconic product.
Why Ranitidine Has High Levels of NDMA
The prevailing theory among experts is that Zantac becomes tainted with NDMA over time. The substance is not an active ingredient in ranitidine. It was not found in ranitidine at the time that the drug was manufactured.
Instead, ranitidine is an unstable compound, and it can change over time. When ranitidine is stored, usually at higher temperatures, it can break down and form NDMA. In other words, ranitidine makes its own harmful substances because of its own composition.
Zantac that has been on the shelf for a while or has been shipped in high temperatures will have even higher levels of NDMA.
The problem is not just with ranitidine that has been on the shelf. Research also shows that ranitidine can make NDMA when exposed to the high temperatures inside the body.
Anytime that someone even takes a dose of Zantac, they are exposed to NDMA. When they have taken the drug over a period of years, their risk of developing liver cancer increases.
NDMA Is a Probable Human Carcinogen
While there is not unanimous agreement, there is a growing body of evidence that has found that high levels of exposure to NDMA can cause cancer.
NDMA is actually a common substance that is found in everyday foods and products. For example, NDMA is in:
- Cured meats
However, NDMA is not a substance that people would intentionally want to ingest into their bodies. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, NDMA has been used in liquid rocket fuel, antioxidants, additives for lubricants and softeners for copolymers.
The human body is able to tolerate a certain amount of NDMA. Not every exposure will result in cancer.
According to the FDA, a person can consume up to 0.096 micrograms or 0.32 parts per million (ppm) of NDMA per day.
There is a minority of scientists that have taken a contrary point of view to the prevailing research about the cancer risks from NDMA.
However, research has been coalescing around the viewpoint that NDMA is dangerous. For example, in one study, animals ate food that contained levels of NDMA and developed tumors.
However, exposure beyond that on a sustained basis can be dangerous. For example, if one takes a medication that has a dangerous level of NDMA every day, they can be at risk for liver cancer and other types of health problems.
People who were regular Zantac users for years are most at risk for liver cancer.
The FDA Recalls Zantac
The Food and Drug Administration was well behind the curve when it came to dealing with levels of NDMA found in Zantac. They were playing catchup when they were caught flat-footed by the initial news when it was released.
Initially, the FDA downplayed the risk of liver cancer and other illnesses caused by Zantac. The FDA stated that the NDMA levels in Zantac were not dangerous and were no more than the levels found in everyday food products.
The FDA's initial conclusions were flat-out wrong. Subsequent testing found that the NDMA content of Zantac was far higher than originally thought, revealing the exact extent of the danger that patients who took these drugs on a long-term basis face.
The issue was that batches tested revealed different NDMA levels. The original batches tested had lower NDMA levels, but later batches were more tainted with the substance. This is consistent with the fact that NDMA is produced by each individual batch of the drug over time.
By the time that the FDA recalled Zantac, the market had largely done its work for it.
As soon as the initial news about the Valisure testing came out, drug stores started to pull Zantac and generic ranitidine products from their store shelves. At the time of the recall, there was practically no ranitidine to be found anywhere.
Zantac Has Been Associated With Different Types of Cancer
- Liver cancer
- Bile duct cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Stomach cancer
Companies That Can Be Sued in Zantac Lawsuits
Zantac manufacturers and companies who made generic equivalents can be sued. Based on principles of product liability laws, you can also sue the retailer that sold you the drug.
Here are some companies that are defendants in Zantac liver cancer lawsuits:
- Reddy's Laboratories
- Sandoz, Inc
- Apotex Corp
- Novitium Pharma
- Glenmark Pharmaceutical
In addition, you can sue the store where you bought the Zantac or ranitidine. Some stores that can be defendants in these lawsuits are:
You do not have to pin the blame on someone or something specific in your lawsuit. You can name both the manufacturer and the stores and let the courts or the defendants figure out who pays how much on their own.
How Zantac Causes Non Cancerous Liver Damage
Liver tissue is extremely sensitive, and the organ can be very easily damaged. Even things like sugar, trans fats and aspirin can cause liver damage.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, high levels of NDMA can cause liver toxicity. This could result in reduced liver function or an enlarged liver.
When a patient suffers from liver disease, it is life-threatening. Eventually, the disease will progress past the early stages, and the patient may need a liver transplant, and organ donors are very difficult to find.
Symptoms of Liver Damage From Ranitidine
Here are some symptoms that people suffer from liver disease after taking Zantac may experience:
- Abdominal pain
- Internal bleeding
- Dark urine color
- Weight loss
- Chronic fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
How Zantac Can Cause Liver Cancer
The long-term exposure to NDMA impairs liver function and can cause a tumor. This is not surprising because the liver plays a part in processing NDMA, and it comes into direct exposure to this dangerous substance.
The liver performs vital functions within the body, including:
- Storing and breaking down nutrients from the intestines
- Helping clotting to stop bleeding
- Breaking down toxins in the blood to help the body flush them out
- Sending bile into the intestines to help with absorption of nutrients
The most common form of liver cancer caused by NDMA is called hepatocellular carcinoma. According to the National Cancer Institute, another common form of liver cancer is that of the bile ducts.
Without these functions, a human being cannot live. The problem is that liver cancer is one of the more deadly forms of the disease. There are numerous ways to treat the disease that may prolong the patient's life expectancy. The most common way of treating liver cancer is through radiation therapy.
The survival rate for liver cancer patients has improved. Between 50-70% of people who have been diagnosed with liver cancer will survive for five years.
However, they will need to undergo intensive treatment that could affect their quality of life. Liver cancer patients who are not diagnosed before the disease has spread have a far lower chance of survival.
Manufacturers Allegedly Knew That Their Products Contained Toxic Substances
Plaintiffs have alleged that manufacturers knew of the high levels of NDMA in their products for years, yet failed to issue adequate warnings to the public. In fact, they did not issue any warnings at all.
There are scientific studies that date back nearly a decade that show that ranitidine was one of the more likely compounds to form NDMA.
Surely, a product manufacturer would stay abreast of developments relating to the products that they sell to the public and warn the public of any dangers.
There are several other studies that found that ranitidine was a "precursor" to NDMA. These developments should not have taken the pharmaceutical companies by surprise.
The people who suffered the most are those who developed liver cancer after taking this dangerous drug that was heavily marketed to them and sold as safe.
Contact Our Law Firm for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one have taken Zantac and have been diagnosed with liver cancer, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the maker of the drug in a Zantac lawsuit.
The law firm of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers helps injured clients just like you who are eligible to file a lawsuit against Zantac manufacturers because they have been injured by an over-the-counter or prescription drug that they trusted.
We have seen an increasing number of questions and requests for help in Zantac lawsuits.
Call us today at (800) 424-5757 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation and learn about your legal options.
Here, you must keep a close eye on the statute of limitations that begins to run when you knew or should have known that you were injured.
Frequently Asked Questions About Zantac Lawsuits
Here are some questions that we are often asked about ranitidine liver cancer lawsuits:
How Much Is My Ranitidine Liver Cancer Lawsuit Worth?
It depends on your own particular damages in the case. While mass tort cancer cases usually result in payments in the six figures, we cannot guarantee any results.
The first plaintiffs that win jury awards usually receive larger verdicts, and then the defendants enter into a global settlement agreement with the rest of the plaintiffs. In your case, you may receive the following:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Wrongful death damages if your family is filing the case after a loved one died
Where Do the Liver Cancer Lawsuits Stand Right Now?
The lawsuits about NDMA in ranitidine have been consolidated into federal multidistrict litigation. This means that all the cases proceed together all the way through discovery to develop common evidence that is used in each liver cancer case.
Then, the cases are tried and heard individually in front of a jury. In multidistrict cases, some plaintiffs win their cases while others may not be successful.
As of this writing, bellwether cases will soon be selected from a pool of them, as Zantac lawsuits are moving ahead rapidly.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Zantac Liver Cancer Lawsuits?
Product liability lawsuits involving pharmaceuticals are complex cases that involve detailed work with scientific experts to show that the drug was effectively designed, manufactured or marketed. At the same time, you are fighting a defendant who could be on the hook for billions of dollars.
Here, we expect that a possible Zantac settlement could top $10 billion and make it one of the largest mass tort cases of all time. An attorney who knows product liability cases is a must for a Zantac liver cancer lawsuit.