The scientists who authored a key study linking this commonly-prescribed heartburn drug to cancer now say that their “NDMA measurements are not reliable” and neither are the study’s conclusions. How does this information affect the thousands of pending Zantac claims?
Originally, the authors said that Zantac increased the N-Nitroso-dimethylamine levels in the body by over 400 percent. Without much explanation, they now say that they used flawed methods to determine these levels. Yet most experts agree that there is so much other evidence linking Zantac to cancer that this revelation will have little effect on the FDA’s recall, and that legal actions will continue moving forward. “It’s all boiling down to the fact that [Zantac] is a fundamentally unstable drug,” one observer remarked. Despite the study’s retraction, “we still believe by far the most concerning element for public health for ranitidine is its potential to form NDMA in the human body,” he added.
“The future of the case is very much alive,” one attorney chimed in. “The plan is to go to trial next year. We have all our experts lined up.”
Zantac and NDMA
N-Nitroso-dimethylamine is a common industrial by-product. When certain chemicals are stored at room temperature for extended periods of time, NDMA particles form. Most Zantac pills spend at least several months at room temperature. Manufacturers ship Zantac in large storage crates. After the pills spend at least several weeks on a store shelf, they probably spend several more weeks inside a medicine cabinet. Sanofli, Zantac’s manufacturer, could cure this problem by limiting the shelf life of its product. But that would mean almost literally throwing away money, and for corporations bent on maximizing profits, that’s not an option.
Furthermore, N-Nitroso-dimethylamine is one of the most carcinogenic substances on earth. Several people have used NDMA to intentionally poison other people. COntamination is especially a problem among medications. Long before the Zantac crisis, regulators recalled many batches of Diovan, a hypertension medicine, because of similar NDMA contamination issues.
There is evidence that Sanofli knew about the contamination problem but did nothing to warn consumers about the elevated risk. Failure to warn of a known, probable risk is an independent basis for a legal claim. So, a Lexington personal injury attorney need not “prove” that Ranitidine caused cancer. They must simply prove that the manufacturer knew about, and ignored, an elevated risk.
As mentioned, there is plenty of other evidence affirming the Zantac-cancer link. There is also lots of evidence which refutes this link. Jurors must weigh this evidence and decide for themselves which side’s proof is more credible.
New Evidence in MDL Cases
Dangerous drug claims are usually mass tort claims. A dangerous drug, like Zantac, could affect tens of thousands of victims at once. It would be very inefficient for courts to handle these claims individually. At the same time, dangerous drug claims usually don’t fit the criteria for class action claims. So, complete consolidation is not possible.
Multidistrict Litigation is basically a mixture of class action and individual claims. All matters are consolidated in a single federal court for pretrial purposes. This approach conserves judicial resources. Additionally, most judges appoint special masters with relevant expertise to oversee these matters. The master oversees discovery and otherwise manages the cases.
If a case does not settle, the court usually sends it to its home jurisdiction for trial or sets up a separate trial which uses the home state’s law.
New evidence in an MDL claim could either help everyone or hurt everyone. If the new proof is relevant in one MDL case, it’s probably relevant in all of them. Since different MDL plaintiffs usually work together, the new evidence is freely available, at least in most cases. MDL matters usually have a single defendant, the drug manufacturer. The doctors who prescribed the medication could be part of these lawsuits as well.
Damages in a dangerous drug claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Jurors usually award significant punitive damages in these cases as well. These damages are available if there is clear and convincing evidence that the defendant intentionally disregarded a known risk, such as failing to warn consumers about a product’s possible hazards.
Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Virtual and after-hours visits are available. #goodelawyers