Ranitidine, also known as Zantac, is an antihistamine and antacid that was widely used for the treatment of heartburn, stomach ulcers, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. It was prescribed, and available over the counter, and was taken by millions of people. It belongs to a family of drugs that are histamine-2 blockers, and they decrease the amount of acid produced in the stomach. It has been one of the most popular antacids since the 1980s, at one point being prescribed 15 million times a year.
One thing that wasn’t anticipated was that Zantac produced a carcinogen called NDMA (n-nitrosodimethylamine), which has been linked to a number of drug recalls. Zantac was unique among these recalls due to the fact that the drug itself became the source of NDMA, as opposed to other drugs that introduced it through cross contamination or some other means. Types of cancer that people have developed include breast, stomach, bladder, small intestine, colorectal, esophageal, liver, prostate, pancreatic, leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. Because of this, the Federal Drug Administration has issued a number of recalls for both prescribed and over the counter versions of the drug.
More about NDMA, its Connection to Zantac, and How it Gets Introduced into the Body
NDMA is an environmental contaminant found in a number of foods, like dairy products, vegetables, and grilled meat, as well as water. It is a known carcinogen in animals, but studies in humans have been limited. The FDA considers it a “probable” human carcinogen. It has been noted that the relatively low levels of this substance in food and water does not seem significant enough to cause cancer.
In April 2020, the FDA put out a release about the link between NDMA and Zantac, outlining how the drug introduced the substance into the body. It is still unclear how NDMA became present in the drug, because the drug was not initially manufactured with the substance. Two ways that Zantac impurities that produce NDMA become possible when the drug comes into contact with stomach acids that have certain nitrates present, and when stored at improper temperatures. Third party laboratories, in conjunction with the FDA, found that even under normal storage conditions NDMA would develop in the drug, but when improperly stored at higher temperatures the rate of production was much higher.
Cancer Caused by Zantac and Your Lawsuit
By now, the links between Zantac and certain cancers have been well established. While it may be difficult to say that your cancer has been definitively caused by Zantac and not some other biological or environmental cause, if you can establish that you were prescribed Zantac while your attorney leans heavily on the cumulative scientific evidence, then your chances of a successful lawsuit will improve. You should be able to prove that you took the drug on a regular basis for at least six month, and that after taking it you were diagnosed with one of the following types of cancer: liver, stomach, bladder, intestinal, colorectal, or esophageal.
As of right now, litigation in the larger suits against the company are still in process, so it will take time for any litigation to be resolved. However, getting in touch with a Defective Drug Law Firm now is recommended to ensure your claim is preserved.