Why were Zantac and ranitidine recalled, and why do they cause cancer?

A package of the over-the-counter version of Zantac sits on a pharmacy shelf.

In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration warned that the heartburn drugs Zantac and ranitidine were contaminated with a chemical that could increase the risk of cancer for patients who used these medications. Following the FDA warning, Zantac and ranitidine were recalled by pharmaceutical companies who manufactured these drugs and pharmacies where they were sold.

Thousands of Americans who used Zantac or ranitidine may have developed cancer as a result of their exposure to these drugs. Patients who were treated with these medications and have been diagnosed with cancer may qualify to file a lawsuit and receive compensation for their injuries.

Why was Zantac recalled by the FDA?

In 2018, tests revealed that a blood pressure medication known as Valsartan was contaminated with NDMA, a chemical linked to an increased cancer risk. After learning of these results, scientists began testing other drugs to find out whether they may have been contaminated with NDMA.

The following year, the online pharmacy Valisure informed the FDA that it had detected NDMA in samples of Zantac and ranitidine. The tests found that samples of Zantac and ranitidine made by different manufacturers were contaminated with the cancer-causing chemical, and that all lots tested by the pharmacy were contaminated.

After learning of these findings, drugmakers that manufactured Zantac or ranitidine and pharmacies that sold these drugs began recalling the medications due to evidence that they could increase the risk of cancer.

Why has Zantac been linked to an increased cancer risk?

After Zantac and ranitidine were recalled because of contamination with NDMA, scientists began looking at how this contamination occurred and the health risks that these drugs may pose for patients.

NDMA, or N-Nitrosodimethylamine, the chemical that was found to be contaminating Zantac and ranitidine, is also found in rocket fuel, some pesticides, and other industrial processes. Research conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that exposure to NDMA is “probably carcinogenic to humans”. The WHO has stated that exposure to NDMA may increase the risk of gastric cancer, stomach cancer, and colorectal cancer in humans.

According to an investigation carried out by the FDA, when Zantac or ranitidine are stored at room temperature, a chemical process occurs in these drugs which causes them to be contaminated with NDMA. Researchers found that these medications can become contaminated with NDMA after only two weeks of room temperature storage, and that the amount of NDMA present in Zantac and ranitidine would continue to increase the longer that these medications are stored at room temperature.

Have lawsuits been filed by patients with cancer from Zantac or ranitidine?

In the wake of warnings about the cancer risk associated with Zantac and ranitidine and the widespread recall of these products, thousands of lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. on behalf of patients who were diagnosed with cancer after using these drugs.

Many of the Zantac and ranitidine lawsuits so far were filed against drug companies that manufactured these heartburn medications, including Sanofi-Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, and Pfizer. Lawsuits have also been filed against pharmacy chains such as Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid, where Zantac and ranitidine were sold.

The massive number of lawsuits that are expected to be filed on behalf of patients who were diagnosed with cancer after using Zantac or ranitidine prompted the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to establish an MDL in Florida to handle these cases. In addition to the hundreds of cases that are currently part of the Florida Zantac and ranitidine MDL, the makers of these drugs also face several class action lawsuits filed on behalf of patients who used the medications for heartburn or other stomach acid conditions.

Do I qualify to file a Zantac or ranitidine lawsuit?

If you or a loved one used Zantac or generic ranitidine to treat heartburn or other conditions caused by too much stomach acid and have been diagnosed with cancer, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit or join one of the existing class action lawsuits that have been filed against the makers of these drugs. The first step in taking legal action is to schedule a consultation with an experienced pharmaceutical liability attorney, who can advise you regarding your options and walk you through the first steps in filing a claim.

To learn more about filing a Zantac or ranitidine lawsuit and to find out whether you may qualify to take legal action, contact the lawyers at Hissey, Mulderig & Friend to schedule your free legal consultation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-866-806-8117.

If you would prefer, you can also contact us by answering a few questions in our free case evaluation form on the right side of this page. After we receive your information, a member of our staff will contact you to schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys.

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