Zantac Cancer Lawsuits
About 20% of American adults deal with the pain and discomfort of heartburn regularly enough to require medication. But for many people, the go-to drug they’ve been using for decades to curb heartburn may have been causing more harm than good.
Since the fall of 2019, the drug has been the subject of recalls, and nearly 150 lawsuits have been filed alleging that Zantac and its generic version, ranitidine, contains N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a likely human carcinogen.
In April 2020, the Food and Drug Administration determined that all Zantac products be pulled by manufacturers, and most retailers had already conducted voluntary recalls of the product by the fall of 2019.
What should consumers know about ranitidine, Zantac and the harmful substance that’s been found in many samples of Zantac?
Zantac Antacid Drug
Ranitidine, better known by the brand name Zantac, is a histamine blocker that decreases the amount of acid released by cells in the stomach. First introduced to the market in the early 1980s, Zantac would become the best-selling drug in history by 1987.
About 16 million prescriptions are filled each year for ranitidine, which in addition to relieving heartburn has been used to treat ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and prevent upper gastrointestinal bleeding.
For decades, doctors and patients had assumed Zantac was perfectly safe, but in the summer of 2019, a small Connecticut pharmacy alerted the FDA that its tests had revealed disturbing levels of NDMA in some ranitidine samples during some routine testing.
Valisure reported that its tests revealed NDMA in excess of 3 million nanograms per tablet; the FDA’s acceptable daily intake of NDMA is just 96 nanograms, meaning that ranitidine medications tested by the lab showed NDMA levels several thousand times higher than what the FDA considers the upper limit of safety for human consumption.
What Is NDMA?
NDMA, N-Nitrosodimethylamine, is listed as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Formerly used in the production of rocket fuel, the only approved use for NDMA today is for research.
NDMA is also an unintended byproduct of the chlorination of wastewater and drinking water in many water-treatment plants that use chloramine-based products for disinfecting. Animal studies have repeatedly found that NDMA causes cancer in a range of species and exposure methods, including causing liver, respiratory, kidney and blood cancer.
The chemical also was at the heart of recent recalls of valsartan (Diovan) and losartan (Cozaar), two popular blood pressure medications, but the FDA’s investigation has determined that the presence of NDMA in Zantac can increase over time, particularly when the drug is stored at temperatures higher than normal.
Zantac Cancer Lawsuits
More than 140 individual lawsuits have been filed against Sanofi, the company that markets Zantac in the U.S., and GlaxoSmithKline, the drug maker that first developed Zantac, and a class-action lawsuit was recently filed in Ohio on behalf of 12 plaintiffs.
The class action seeks damages of more than $5 million, alleging that not only is ranitidine unsafe but that the defendants were aware of a connection between Zantac and NDMA but that they hid the connection from consumers and health regulators.
None of the dozen plaintiffs in the class action have been diagnosed with cancer, according to their court filing, but many others who are pursuing individual lawsuits against the drug companies are alleging a direct connection between cancer and Zantac.
A 37-year-old Cleveland area man, Michael Konn, is among them. Konn had served 15 years as a Cleveland police officer when he was diagnosed with bladder cancer, a condition that’s far more common in older people than those under 40.
What Should You Do?
Those who have been prescribed Zantac or other forms of ranitidine should discontinue use of the drug and safely dispose of it. For people who take a prescription version of the drug as opposed to an over-the-counter version, they should contact their doctors to discuss what other options exist for treating their heartburn or other conditions.
Neither the FDA nor private labs have found NDMA contamination in Pepcid (famotidine), Prilosec (omeprazole) or Nexium (esomeprazole), but consultation with your healthcare provider is the best step for those who take Zantac.
Contact an Attorney
If you or a loved one have taken Zantac and been diagnosed with Cancer , you may want to consider consulting with a qualified attorney. We are currently investigating claims that Zantac caused the following types of Cancer:
- Bladder cancer
- Colorectal cancer (colon and rectal cancer)
- Esophageal cancer
- Intestinal cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer (non-smokers)
- Ovarian cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Uterine cancer
. The Law Offices of Melinda J. Helbock, A.P.C., is experienced in cases such as this, and you can contact us today for a free evaluation of your case.
National Institutes of Health, PubMed, How Zantac became the best-selling drug in history. (1996.) Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10169076
Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publishing, Popular heartburn drug ranitidine recalled: What you need to know and do. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/popular-heartburn-drug-ranitidine-recalled-what-you-need-to-know-and-do-2019092817911
Cleveland FOX 19, Popular heartburn medicine being linked to cases of specific cancers in growing number of lawsuits. (2020.) Retrieved from https://www.fox19.com/2020/03/06/popular-heartburn-medicine-being-linked-cases-specific-cancers-growing-number-lawsuits/