A federal judge wiped out approximately 50,000 plaintiffs’ claims that their use of Zantac and its generic derivatives caused them to develop various forms of cancer. In issuing her ruling, U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg said that the plaintiffs’ experts could not provide accurate testimony because they “systematically utilized unreliable methodologies” and demonstrated “a lack of internally consistent, objective, science-based standards for the evenhanded evaluation of data.”
Lawyers for the plaintiffs were outraged at the judge’s decision and called it a “miscarriage of justice.” They also “fully expect” a reversal of the judge’s decision when they appeal her ruling.
Reporting on the judge’s decision does not dispute that Zantac’s active ingredient ranitidine can degrade over time and create a chemical compound known as NDMA. NDMA is a known human carcinogen in larger amounts, even though it is generally found in low levels in most things humans encounter day-to-day; including our food and water.
The FDA even acted on this information when news of the chemical reaction first came to light. A full recall of all Zantac-based medications was issued in 2020 as it became clear that the amount of NDMA that ranitidine can produce increases the longer it is stored and permitted to degrade. Evidence also showed that the rate of NDMA production could increase if the drug was stored at higher temperatures. This called into question the amount of NDMA already in products that had shipped to the United States from overseas as shipping containers baked under the heat of transoceanic sunshine.
Lawsuits poured in when news of the ranitidine/cancer link broke with initial litigation blaming NDMA contamination for 10 separate types of cancer. Federal court litigation was later limited to just five – bladder, esophageal, gastrointestinal, liver, and pancreatic.
Tens of thousands of additional cases are pending in state courts around the country, however, according to reporting by Reuters, the standards used for the evaluation of expert testimony given in many of those state courts is similar to that used by Judge Rosenberg in issuing her ruling.
The full text of the ruling can be found here.