Zantac Lawsuits: A Status Update
Zantac (ranitidine) lawsuits in federal court are part of multi-district litigation (MDL) against Sanofi and Boehringer Ingelheim. The case is being handled in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida and has been assigned to Judge Robin Rosenberg. There were 291 cases in the MDL as of August 6. This number will probably greatly increase in the future because so many people have taken the popular heartburn drug.
What The Lawsuits Are About
The lawsuits focus on the presence of N-Nitrosodimethlylamine (NDMA), a probable carcinogen, in Zantac. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested the removal of all drugs containing ranitidine from the market in April due to contamination with NDMA.
Lawsuits allege manufacturers of drugs containing ranitidine knew or should have known of the NDMA in their medications, failing to warn the public about this carcinogenic risk. Experiment results published in 1981 showed that “toxic and mutagenic effects” occurred when the drug was exposed to human gastric fluid and nitrates, effects which may have happened because of the “formation of more than one nitroso derivative under our experimental conditions.”
GlaxoSmithKline responded to the results in The Lancet two weeks later, demonstrating that the drug maker knew about the experiment results.
The Status Of The Lawsuits
The MDL is now in the discovery phase. Each side asks questions of the other for the purpose of evidence gathering in this phase. This phase can include depositions, document requests and interrogatories. Discovery should last for 18 months according to Judge Rosenberg’s scheduling order. Fact discovery should be completed by December 20, 2021.
The defendants currently intend to file a motion for case dismissal under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a common filing for large lawsuits like this. Judges rarely grant these motions, but defendants always try to get their cases dismissed on various grounds. Dismissal motions are due on August 24, 2020. Other motions to dismiss on different grounds are due in October 2020.
Lawsuits like these typically take years to finish and we probably won’t see a result in this one until around 2025 if the case goes to trial. We also expect the current phase to be a very early phase regarding how many cases will be filed.
State Court Lawsuits
There are also Zantac lawsuits which have been filed in state courts across the United States. There have been over 40 cases filed in California, and plaintiffs are looking to merge their California cases in a similar way to an MDL.