Zantac, a popular drug for heartburn relief, has a long history. Placed on the market in 1981 in both prescription and OTC (over-the-counter) formulations, we now know that Zantac has a dark side. If you or someone you love has taken the brand name or generic version of this drug, reviewing the following information will be an important first step to deciding whether or not you need a drug recall lawyer.
What Is Zantac?
Zantac is a brand name for ranitidine. Ranitidine is a drug that’s classified as an H2 blocker or antagonist. This simply means that the drug blocks histamine receptors located in the stomach, which causes a decrease in stomach acid. The prescription form of ranitidine was used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and peptic ulcers. The OTC formulation was used for the treatment and prevention of heartburn.
Why Was Zantac Taken Off the Market?
Zantac and its generic counterparts were taken off the market, following an FDA announcement on April 1, 2020, because of an alert to the FDA in September 2019 by Valisure, a pharmaceutical company that had conducted testing on the drug. Their tests revealed the presence of a chemical called NDMA, a well-known carcinogen or cancer-causing contaminant that’s found in very small amounts in the environment.
Not only did Valisure find NDMA in the drug, but they also discovered that there was more than 3,000 times the safe limit of this carcinogen in Zantac. If that wasn’t enough to cause fear and anger in anyone who had taken this drug, it was also discovered that Zantac had a design flaw that made it chemically unstable. This instability caused NDMA to continue to be produced in the body long after it had been taken and to build up in the body over time to create even higher harmful amounts of the carcinogen.
Along with Valisure’s testing, studies were done on the drug that revealed how and where in the body these harmful levels of NDMA are created. The unstable molecules in the drug break down in the digestive tract, causing these harmful levels. This breakdown was found to occur even more readily if ranitidine came into contact with nitrites.
Recently, it was also revealed that Zantac and its generic brands didn’t even have to be ingested to be incredibly dangerous; even when stored properly, the amounts of NDMA in Zantac were found to increase significantly.
Cancers and Other Health Issues Caused by Zantac Use
As a result of the fact that NDMA is a carcinogen, the drug is chemically unstable and produces and accumulates NDMA in the digestive tract, so many who took this drug developed cancers of the colon, uterus, testicles, liver, kidneys, rectum, and esophagus. Bladder, ovarian, and prostate cancers were also on the exhaustive list of cancers associated with Zantac.
In addition to cancer, another terrible property of NDMA is that it is a strong hepatotoxin. This means that even short-term exposure to this carcinogen can damage your liver. The longer you are exposed to NDMA, the higher your risk of developing tumors of the lung, kidney, and liver.
In addition to the many cancers and organ damage caused by the chemical instability of the drug, there are also a host of side effects associated with Zantac. These include increased or decreased heart rate, breathing difficulties, stomach pain, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation.
Is There a Lawsuit?
Yes, there have been several lawsuits filed because of Zantac. The first lawsuit, filed in 2019, alleged that the drug’s creators Sanofi-Aventis knew that NDMA posed a serious threat to human health and not only failed to warn consumers about it but also continued to market the drug heavily and continue its manufacture.
Other lawsuits claim that ranitidine doesn’t just deposit NDMA in the body, but go further to say that it causes the carcinogen to start forming in the body on its own. Both Florida and California decided to go ahead with federal multi-district litigation due to the large number of individual and class action lawsuits that had been filed since the news of NDMA contamination in Zantac broke in September of 2019.
It’s believed by many personal injury lawyers that these lawsuits may only be the tip of a massive iceberg of cases yet to be filed. As stated previously, Zantac is a drug that’s been on the market for almost 40 years; literal generations of consumers have taken it and, thanks to the brilliant marketing to consumers and physicians alike, Zantac had become a household name for heartburn treatment.
Do You Qualify for a Lawsuit?
Although every situation is individual, you or someone you love may be a potential Zantac plaintiff if you used either the brand name or generic equivalent of the drug on a regular basis over a long period of time and have been diagnosed with cancer. Although only certain types of cancer have strong links to NDMA exposure, any person who used Zantac and was diagnosed with cancer may be a plaintiff.
What Kinds of Settlements Can You Expect?
Although we can’t provide any solid numbers at this time because the sheer number of lawsuits is far from being finalized, we can tell you that those who were diagnosed with cancers most closely related to NDMA exposure are likely to get the highest individual settlements. These include cancers of the esophagus, liver, stomach, colon, rectum, bladder, and intestines.
What’s happening with the Roundup cancer lawsuits right now is the best comparison for what may happen with Zantac for a few reasons. It involves a cancer-causing product, and there is much debate over liability. Expert witnesses have been called and stated that Roundup contains no harmful chemicals and, as yet, no cases have been settled. It’s a generally held opinion in the legal community that the same will occur with Zantac lawsuits.
What to Do if You Still Have Zantac at Home
For consumers, the FDA advises that any packages of Zantac you may still have in your home should be disposed of immediately; the FDA is recommending that you follow the steps outlined on their website for safe disposal of the drug at home.
If you were still taking OTC Zantac or another generic ranitidine product in liquid or tablet form, it was advised to stop taking it immediately and begin taking another non-ranitidine approved product like Pepcid, Nexium, or Prilosec.
If you were taking prescription Zantac, you were being advised to speak with your health professional about your options before you stopped taking Zantac and begin taking non-ranitidine products like Prevacid, Tagamet, or the products mentioned above.
Were You a Zantac User Who Was Diagnosed with Cancer?
If you took Zantac on a prescription or over-the-counter basis and were diagnosed with cancer, your next step is to contact a personal injury law firm. Simply put, Zantac manufacturers and the FDA both failed to meet their responsibility to consumers like you.
Their job was to ensure that Zantac was safe to take, and they should have put a sufficient amount of time, effort, and resources into testing and being aware of every single side effect and other health outcomes associated with the consumption of their drug.
Instead, they chose to put profit over the health of the people who took their product, and it’s very likely they’ll deny responsibility for the unbearable stress and pain that millions of individuals and their families now have to deal with due to a cancer diagnosis.
Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris are experienced personal injury attorneys who understand how Big Pharma operates. We know Zantac drug makers will try everything they can to wash their hands of taking responsibility for your cancer. That’s why we will aggressively defend you and get you the compensation you so rightly deserve.
If you or a loved one received a cancer diagnosis following the regular use of Zantac or its generic brands, contact us today for a free consultation: (713) 893-0971.