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Recently, scientists reported dangerous carcinogens in the over-the-counter heartburn drug Zantac and its generic form ranitidine. Carcinogens are chemicals that can cause cancer in humans.
Because of this discovery, Zantac and all ranitidine-containing products were removed from store shelves under an FDA recall. Since the recall, thousands of lawsuits have been filed by people diagnosed with cancer after taking the drug. . The potentially widespread harm that Zantact and ranitidine products allegedly caused to millions of people made this mass tort lawsuit appropriate for a multidistrict litigation.
In this article, we review what a mass tort claim is, what’s happening with the Zantac-related mass tort cases, and what you can do if you or your loved ones may have suffered harm from taking Zantac.
In the most general sense, a mass tort is a wrongful decision or action that causes widespread (mass) harm to many victims.
A mass tort claim is a type of lawsuit that has characteristics similar to a class action. Both involve claims brought against a wrongdoer (usually a business) seeking damages for harm inflicted on a large group of people through a common set of decisions, actions, or incidents.
In a class action, the whole group (or “class”) of injured individuals bands together to file a single lawsuit against the party that harmed them. The members of the class suffered the same basic harm. A single team of lawyers typically represents the entire class, and allocates the proceeds from any settlement or judgment obtained through the lawsuit among them in a manner a court approves.
In a mass tort claim, by comparison, individuals harmed by a common set of wrongful decisions or actions do not join together to sue the wrongdoer in a single lawsuit. Instead, each injured party hires a lawyer and files suit separately, alleging separate or unique harms. A court might consolidate the cases to streamline how they’re handled (see below), but when any particular case resolves, the resolution affects only the party to that particular case.
Mass tort actions tend to address situations in which the members of the injured group are diverse in how they sustained injuries, and in the nature and degree of injuries they sustained. This makes it difficult to lump them together as a class and to tailor a one-size-fits-all resolution that addresses their injuries and losses fairly.
Common mass tort claims are those brought against companies for:
If you sustained injuries or losses because you took Zantac or another ranitidine product, then an experienced mass tort attorney can help advise you as to your legal rights.
Zantac, or ranitidine, is an over-the-counter heartburn medication. It belongs to a group of drugs known as histamine-2 blockers, designed to block and reduce the amount of acid your stomach produces. In the past, it treated ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), syndromes that caused the stomach to produce excess acid, and other similar conditions.
In September 2019, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found small amounts of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in ranitidine. NDMA is an environmental contaminant that is sometimes found in very small amounts in water, dairy, meats, or vegetables. Ingesting high doses of NDMA over long periods could increase the risk of cancer.
Concentrations of NDMA in ranitidine appear to increase over time and when stored at high temperatures. Citing concerns about ranitidine’s safety, the FDA requested the removal of all ranitidine products from the market in April 2020.
People who took Zantac and ranitidine did so in order to treat heartburn, ulcers, or other health issues. Stomach and gastrointestinal pain can be extremely difficult to live with, which is why treatments like Zantac are so popular. Thankfully, other options do exist for people who suffer from severe heartburn, ulcers, GERD, etc.
Some of the most common alternatives you can find include:
Ask your physician or a trusted pharmacist about your treatment options.
In September 2019, an online pharmaceutical company called Valisure informed the FDA that it had found concerning levels of NDMA in ranitidine. Shortly afterward, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid removed ranitidine products from their shelves. By the end of October 2019, 14 generic manufacturers and the Zantac brand manufacturer, Sanofi, issued recalls.
Lawsuits soon followed. In September 2019, a man who had taken Zantac for ten years and had developed breast cancer (which is uncommon in men) sued Sanofi. In October 2019, a man was diagnosed with bladder cancer after taking Zantac for more than ten years. He sued several manufacturers of ranitidine. More lawsuits followed, such as those by veterans who took Zantac on the advice of their doctors at the Veterans Administration.
As of early 2020, multiple separate cases asserting harm from taking Zantac had been consolidated into a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. An MDL groups multiple cases with one or more important common elements of law and fact together in a single court, usually overseen by a single judge. Its purpose is to streamline case administration and to ensure consistency of court decisions that may affect parties’ rights.
Benefits of an MDL include:
The Zantac MDL in the Southern District of Florida is assigned to Judge Robin L. Rosenberg. The MDL was created after 15 separate cases were originally filed in nine federal district courts scattered around the country. Nine of the cases involved claims by individuals who believe they have been harmed by Zantac and seek to recover compensation. Six of the cases involved claims by consumers who seek economic relief and refunds after having purchased Zantac.
A panel of judges decided to coordinate those cases into an MDL because the individuals who had filed the lawsuits “uniformly allege that the manufacturers, sellers, and distributors of Zantac and other ranitidine medications knew or should have known that these medications exposed consumers to NDMA, and that defendants concealed the NDMA-associated dangers posed to consumers by these products.”
Many more former Zantac consumers will likely seek damages for the harm they allege they suffered by taking the drug. An experienced mass tort attorney can help you explore your options for pursuing a claim for damages related to Zantac or ranitidine use.
If you or a loved one has suffered harm because of the drug Zantac or ranitidine, then you may have a legal claim for damages to make against the drug’s manufacturers.
Because NDMA is a carcinogen, developing any of the following cancers could indicate that you may seek compensation through legal action:
This is not necessarily an exhaustive list. Contact an experienced mass tort attorney today if you have developed any form of cancer after taking Zantac or ranitidine over an extended time.
In addition, some people have brought suit simply because they paid for the drug and must now find other ways to treat their heartburn or other gastrointestinal health conditions. Drug manufacturers or distributors that failed to discover and warn about the dangers of Zantac may have failed in their duty to keep the public safe.
Besides causing cancer, NDMA has other side effects.
Drug manufacturers have an obligation to prevent their products from containing a dangerous compound like NDMA, and to take action to protect the public against its harmful effects. Taking legal action can hold those manufacturers and others accountable for their alleged failures.
Individuals who, with the help of an experienced mass tort lawyer, can prove they suffered harm by taking Zantac or generic ranitidine could obtain compensation to help them pay for:
The amount of compensation an at-risk or sick Zantac consumer might obtain by taking legal action could vary widely from case to case. It will depend on the nature and severity of the health conditions developed from taking Zantac, and the strength of the case an experienced mass tort lawyer can build on the individual’s behalf.
Many mass tort cases settle through a global settlement program. There is no guarantee of settlement in any case, however, nor of the amount an injured individual might receive. That is why you need to consult an experienced mass tort attorney to explore your options for taking legal action in connection with the Zantac mass tort cases.
By way of illustration only, however, other high profile mass tort actions have resulted in these settlements and judgments:
We list these cases here only to illustrate the potential ranges of settlements and financial outcomes that other mass tort claims have achieved for injured individuals.
To repeat, there is no guarantee that any Zantac mass tort-related claim will result in similar payments. However, historically speaking, mass tort claims have held the potential for victims of dangerous drugs to obtain substantial financial compensation for their injuries and losses.
If you or a loved one suffered harm from taking Zantac or ranitidine, then you may have the ability to receive compensation by participating in the Zantac/ranitidine mass tort action.
To explore your options, contact an experienced mass tort attorney as soon as possible. Now is the time to assert your rights and to secure the money you deserve for the harm done to you.
John Gomez founded the firm alone in 2005. Today, John acts as President and Lead Trial Attorney. He has been voted by his peers as a top ten San Diego litigator in three separate fields: Personal Injury, Insurance and Corporate Litigation. Since 2000, he has recovered over $800 million in settlements and verdicts for his clients with more than 160 separate recoveries of one million dollars or more. A prolific trial lawyer, John has tried to jury verdict more than 60 separate cases.
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