Zantac Lawsuit Claims Heartburn Drug Caused Esophageal Cancer

A Virginia woman alleges in a new product liability lawsuit that carcinogenic chemicals produced by the recalled heartburn drug Zantac caused her to develop esophageal cancer. The lawsuit, filed on January 3 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, joins dozens of similar lawsuits filed in recent months on behalf of consumers who were diagnosed with esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, colorectal cancer and other cancers along the digestive tract after using Zantac or other medications containing Zantac’s active ingredient, ranitidine. If you believe you have been adversely affected by side effects of Zantac, don’t hesitate to seek qualified legal help. With a knowledgeable Zantac attorney on your side, you may be able to recover the compensation you deserve for your medical expenses and other related losses.

What is Zantac Used For?

Zantac (ranitidine) belongs to the class of drugs known as histamine-2 (H2) blockers, which work by reducing the amount of acid the stomach produces. Zantac has been on the market since the 1980s and is used by millions of Americans to treat heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcers in the stomach and intestines, and other conditions caused by too much acid in the stomach. Prior to being subjected to a rash of recalls beginning in September 2019, Zantac was one of the best-selling medications in history, widely used in both prescription and over-the-counter form by people across the country struggling with heartburn and other similar conditions.

Zantac and Ranitidine Recalls

Both Zantac and generic ranitidine were pulled from the market late last year due to concerns about users being exposed to dangerously high levels of the chemical N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). NDMA is a known environmental contaminant and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified the chemical as a probable human carcinogen, meaning it can cause cancer in humans. In response to growing concerns about consumers being exposed to NDMA from Zantac and ranitidine drug products, multiple manufacturers have voluntarily recalled prescription and over-the-counter versions of the medication and major retailers like Walmart, Rite Aid and Walgreens have stopped selling the drugs.

The recent wave of Zantac recalls resulted in dozens of lawsuits being brought against Zantac and ranitidine manufacturers over allegations that the companies failed to warn consumers that their medications may expose them to an increased risk of cancer. This most recent Zantac lawsuit was filed by Deborah Haskins, a regular Zantac user who took at least one 75 mg tablet of the medication every day for several years. According to allegations raised by Haskins, the chemical structure of ranitidine is inherently unstable and may produce extremely high levels of NDMA when digested by the human body. “As a direct and proximate result of ingesting Zantac, Plaintiff contracted Esophageal Cancer,” Haskins’ lawsuit states. “Had Plaintiff been informed that taking Zantac would expose her to unsafe quantities of NDMA such that it could and did cause her to contract Esophageal Cancer, she never would have purchased or ingested Zantac.”

“Extremely High Levels of NDMA” Found in Ranitidine Products

While the ongoing Zantac recalls have increased awareness about the possibility of NDMA exposure from Zantac, many consumers diagnosed with various types of cancer in recent years remain unaware that that their cancer may have been caused by the heartburn drug, which has been on the market for more than 30 years. It wasn’t until June 2019 that an independent pharmacy called Valisure discovered during testing “extremely high levels of N-Nitrososdimethylamine (‘NDMA’), a probable human carcinogen, in every lot tested, across multiple manufacturers and dosage forms of the drug ranitidine.” It took another three months for the FDA to issue an official warning about the potential for Zantac to cause cancer in users and that warning came only after Valisure filed a citizen petition with the FDA calling for a recall of all Zantac products.

How Does Zantac Cause Cancer?

At the center of the Zantac cancer crisis is evidence suggesting that Zantac’s active ingredient, ranitidine, can break down during digestion and produce NDMA at levels that far exceed the permissible daily intake limit established by the FDA, which is 96 ng. According to Valisure’s citizen petition, “Valisure has detected NDMA in excess of 3,000,000 ng per tablet when analyzing ranitidine products, likely due to an inherent instability of the ranitidine molecule.” The pharmacy reports that “The ranitidine molecule contains both a nitrite and a dimethylamine (‘DMA’) group which are well known to combine to form NDMA.” If you or someone you love regularly used the heartburn drug Zantac and has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer or another type of cancer, consult a reputable Zantac cancer lawyer as soon as possible to find out whether you qualify for compensation through a product liability lawsuit.