In April 2020, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a recall for prescription and over-the-counter Zantac, a popular heartburn medication used by millions of Americans. The agency issued this decision after discovering that the drug contained dangerous levels of a carcinogen, leading many patients to develop pancreatic cancer. Now, these patients are holding Zantac’s manufacturers accountable for their losses.
If you received a pancreatic cancer diagnosis after taking Zantac, Shapiro Legal Group, PLLC can help. Our attorneys specialize in dangerous and defective drug litigation, partnering with medical experts and leading personal injury and mass tort firms nationwide so you can receive the most comprehensive representation possible.
Why Choose Shapiro Legal Group, PLLC
- We have represented thousands of injured people nationwide. Our attorneys will fight tenaciously to secure the compensation you need to recover.
- Our firm holds over 20 years of personal injury and mass tort experience, specializing in dangerous and defective drug claims.
- We pride ourselves on our responsiveness to our clients. When you call or email for a free case consultation, our firm will respond within 24 hours. During your case, we will answer any questions you may have and provide prompt litigation updates.
Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
Our pancreas is an organ that lies in your lower abdomen. Its function is to secrete enzymes that aid in digestion, as well as hormones that help regulate our blood sugar. Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive form of cancer that begins in the pancreatic tissue; it is common for patients not to experience any symptoms until the cancer progresses to later stages.
Common symptoms of pancreatic cancer include the following.
- Loss of appetite
- Blood clots
- Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Unexplained weight loss
- Dark-colored urine
- Light-colored stools
- Pain in the abdomen that radiates to the lower back
- A new diabetes diagnosis or worsening diabetes
According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year relative survival rate for localized pancreatic cancer is 37%, and the likelihood of survival decreases if the cancer spreads throughout the body. This condition worsens without prompt treatment, leading to complications such as severe pain, drastic weight loss, and bowel obstruction. Treatment for pancreatic cancer may include chemotherapy, radiation, or the surgical removal of the pancreas.
How Zantac Can Cause Pancreatic Cancer
In September 2019, a Connecticut-based online pharmacy performed tests on batches of Zantac and discovered that the medication contained traces of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). NDMA is a probable human carcinogen that researchers often use in clinical studies to induce cancerous tumors in laboratory rats. While humans can consume up to 96 nanograms of NDMA per day, some forms of Zantac may contain higher amounts of the chemical.
NDMA belongs to a class of chemicals known as nitrosamines, which are mostly carcinogenic. In the United States, manufacturing plants used NDMA to make rocket fuel, and stopped using the chemical after investigators found high levels of NDMA in the air, soil, and water around these plants. NDMA is also found in certain types of food, such as beer and cured meats.
While manufacturers no longer produce NDMA for commercial purposes, it can still appear as a by-product during chemical reactions, often during the manufacture of pesticides, dyes, rubber tires, and alkylamines. According to the World Health Organization, there is no obvious difference between how human and animal tissues respond to the presence of NDMA.
Exposure to this carcinogenic chemical can lead to the development of free radicals, which damage the DNA and play a major role in the development of cancer. In fact, a 2019 study of 36,000 employees in the rubber industry revealed a higher risk of all cancers, including pancreatic cancer, due to repeated NDMA exposure. As for dietary exposure, a study of over 17,600 American men discovered that participants with the highest amount of meat intake had a three times higher risk of pancreatic cancer than participants with the lowest intake.
FDA Recall of Zantac
Based on the available research and the classification of NDMA as a probable human carcinogen, the FDA decided to issue a recall of Zantac in April 2020. This recall included both prescription and over-the-counter Zantac, as well as all forms of its generic version, ranitidine.
According to the FDA, NDMA levels may increase in Zantac in storage over time, especially if the drug is stored at higher than room temperature. However, NDMA levels may increase even with proper storage. Research shows that the older the drug is, the higher the amount of NDMA exposure. As a result, the agency requested all ranitidine manufacturers to remove their products from the market and all consumers cease use and dispose of their medication safely.
Liability for Zantac Pancreatic Cancer
Former Zantac patients are filing lawsuits against the drug’s manufacturer, Sanofi, after developing pancreatic cancer. There are two claims that Zantac plaintiffs are alleging in their lawsuits: Zantac has an inherently defective design, and that Zantac’s manufacturers failed to warn consumers about its carcinogenic risks.
- Defective design lawsuits allege that Zantac’s design posed a foreseeable risk due to the formation of NDMA, and that the manufacturer created the drug as it was intended to be.
- Failure to warn claims allege that if Zantac’s manufacturers failed to inform physicians and patients of the carcinogenic risks. If these parties knew about the carcinogenic risk, they would not have chosen to prescribe or take the medications.
Courts typically hold drug manufacturers to a strict liability standard, which does not require the presence of negligence or intentional harm to establish a company’s liability. However, you will need to provide strong evidence establishing the nature of the defect and how the defect contributed to your cancer. Your attorney can connect you with expert witnesses and relevant scientific resources to help prove your claim.
Do I Have a Case?
The only way to determine if you have grounds for a Zantac lawsuit is to speak with an attorney. However, you may be eligible for litigation against Zantac’s manufacturers if you meet the following criteria.
- You received a diagnosis for pancreatic cancer within the past 10 years.
- You used over-the-counter or prescription Zantac for at least one year at a minimum dose of 300 milligrams per week.
- No more than 10 years has passed since you last took Zantac.
- You began to use Zantac no less than three years prior to your diagnosis.
- You took name-brand Zantac, not generic ranitidine.
- You are not a regular smoker.
Contact Shapiro Legal Group, PLLC
If you are suffering from Zantac-related pancreatic cancer, help is available. You can hold Zantac’s manufacturers liable for injuries through a defective drug lawsuit, which allows you to collect compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and other physical, financial, and emotional hardships.
Shapiro Legal Group, PLLC represents clients nationwide in their fight against negligent drug manufacturers. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our Zantac pancreatic cancer attorneys and discuss your legal options.