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Boxes of Zantac 150 on a supermarket shelf

An Illinois woman recently filed a new Zantac lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. She claims that after taking the antacid drug for years, she developed cancer, which she believes was caused by the medication.

Multiple manufacturers, including Sanofi, which currently produces Zantac, have issued recalls of Zantac and generic ranitidine after tests found many of the products contained N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a probable human carcinogen.

Plaintiff Blames Zantac for Gastric Cancer

According to her complaint, the plaintiff began taking Zantac sometime around the year 2000 and continued through approximately 2018. She says she followed the instructions on the package when taking it.

In 2019, she was diagnosed with gastric cancer, also known as stomach cancer. This type of cancer forms when malignant cells develop in the lining of the stomach and grow to form tumors. The cancer spreads through to the outer layers of the stomach, and in the early stages, it can cause symptoms like indigestion and stomach discomfort, a bloated feeling after eating, mild nausea, loss of appetite, and heartburn. In the more advanced stages, it can cause blood in the stool, vomiting, weight loss for no known reason, stomach pain, and a buildup of fluid in the abdomen.

The plaintiff states that based on prevailing scientific evidence, her exposure to Zantac and the NDMA in Zantac caused her cancer.

Plaintiff Asserts Zantac Breaks Down to Form NDMA

NDMA was used previously to make rocket fuel, but today it is commercially produced only for use in the scientific laboratory—specifically, to induce cancerous tumors in animals as part of lab experiments.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in September 2019 that samples of Zantac and generic ranitidine had exceeded acceptable levels of NDMA. The agency called on manufacturers to do their own testing, and many recalls of the medication followed.

The FDA has called NDMA an “impurity” in Zantac, but others disagree. Specifically, Valisure, an online pharmacy, which first discovered NDMA in random tests of Zantac in June 2019, asserts that the ranitidine molecule is unstable, and can break down during digestion to form NDMA. The pharmacy submitted a petition to the FDA in September 2019, urging the agency to recall all forms of the drug for this reason.

As part of their argument that Zantac can break down to form NDMA, Valisure pointed to a 2016 study conducted at Stanford University in which researchers found that levels of NDMA in human urine samples increased 400-fold after intake of 150 mg of ranitidine.

“To be clear,” the plaintiff states, “this is not a contamination case—the levels of NDMA that researchers are seeing in Zantac is not the product of some manufacturing error. The high levels of NDMA observed in Zantac are a function of the ranitidine molecule and the way it breaks down in the human digestive system.”

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) recently consolidated all Zantac lawsuits into the U.S. District Court for the District of Florida for pretrial proceedings. The number of cases pending there continues to increase as more plaintiffs come forward with claims of alleged Zantac-associated cancer.

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