Zantac Trial—First in Nation—Dropped After Generic Drug Makers Reach Settlement With Plaintiff

DrugsLegal News

A jury trial over a cancer-causing contaminant in Zantac (ranitidine) was nixed just days before it was to begin, after the plaintiff reached a settlement with generic makers of the drug. 

Scheduled to begin August 22, the trial of Joseph Bayer would have been the first Zantac cancer case held in the U.S. But after Bayer reached a $500,000 settlement with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Perrigo Co., Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Inc. and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Inc., Bayer dropped claims against the generic makers of the popular heartburn drug, Bloomberg News reports. 

Bayer, who alleged that a carcinogenic contaminant in ranitidine known as NDMA caused his esophageal cancer, also dropped claims against brand-name manufacturers of the drug, GSK, Pfizer and Boehringer Ingelheim. The FDA began to issue recalls on ranitidine products including Zantac in 2019. The following year, the agency issued a market-wide recall on all ranitidine medications. 

Thousands of Zantac plaintiffs have claimed that drug makers have known for many years that ranitidine could contain higher-than-acceptable amounts of NMDA but failed to warn them about the possible health risks, which includes the development of several types of cancers. 

Thus far, 1,700 federal Zantac lawsuits have been consolidated in multidistrict litigation (MDL) to prevent clogging district courts with cases that have identical or similar claims. In addition, nearly 2,000 lawsuits are pending at the state level, most of them in California. A Zantac trial is slated to begin in February 2023 in Alameda County, CA. Legal experts predict that as many as 50,000 Zantac cancer claims may be filed in the next coming weeks. 

Introduced to the market in 1983, Zantac, a histamine-2 (H2) blocker, was only available in prescription form before ranitidine became available over-the-counter in 1995. Sanofi Pharmaceuticals released a new over-the-counter version in 2021 that featured a replacement active ingredient, famotidine, which is better known by the branded names, Pepcid and Pepcid AC.


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