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On November 4, 2019, plaintiffs involved in Zantac lawsuits filed a motion with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consolidate all federally filed Zantac lawsuits into one federal court for more efficient pre-trial proceedings.  Consolidation will help preserve resources and provide for more efficient management of the pre-trial proceedings.  The plaintiffs named the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey as the preferred location for the proposed MDL.

The defendants recently filed a response to that motion, agreeing that the cases should be consolidated in the District of New Jersey, and suggesting that the MDL be assigned to the Honorable Freda L. Wolfson, the judge currently overseeing all of the Zantac actions pending in that jurisdiction.  Additional Plaintiffs have filed responses asking the JPML to send the Zantac litigation to federal district courts in Florida and New York.

NDMA Found in Samples of Zantac and Generic Ranitidine

Zantac and generic ranitidine are acid-reducing drugs used to treat gastrointestinal conditions like acid indigestion, heartburn, sour stomach, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Zantac was first sold in the U.S. in 1983, and as recently as 2018, it remained one of the most popular tablet brands of antacid in the U.S., with sales of the over-the-counter 150 mg dose totaling nearly $130 million annually.

The current manufacturer, Sanofi, has owned the U.S. rights to Zantac only since January 2017.  Before that, Boehringer Ingelheim owned it from about October 2006 to 2017.  Neither of these manufacturers warned consumers or healthcare providers that the product could contain a cancer-causing chemical.

In June 2019, online pharmacy Valisure detected N-nitrososdimethylamine (NDMA) at higher-than-acceptable levels in every product tested.  NDMA is classified as a probable human carcinogen, and though it’s no longer commercially produced in the U.S. (except as a research chemical), it can be formed as a byproduct of various industrial and drinking water treatment processes.

The company notified the FDA of its findings, and in September 2019, filed a petition with the FDA, encouraging the agency to recall all forms of ranitidine from the market.

That same month, the FDA warned healthcare providers and the public of the potential safety issue, noting that some ranitidine medications, including Zantac, contained NDMA at low levels, yet levels above those deemed to be safe.  The agency urged manufacturers to do their own testing.

Since then, many companies have recalled some or all of their ranitidine products from the market.  Sanofi pulled Zantac off the shelves in October 2019.

Will the MDL Take Place in New Jersey?

As more people became aware of the potential presence of NDMA in Zantac and generic ranitidine, those who had taken the medications for years and then were diagnosed with cancer began filing lawsuits against the drug manufacturers.  The number of those lawsuits has increased significantly over the past few months and is expected to continue to go up.

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