Zantac’s first jury trial in the country, which was scheduled to begin Aug. 22, was dropped after four generic makers of the heartburn drug reached a settlement with the plaintiff, Bloomberg News reported.
Plaintiff Joseph Bayer alleged that Zantac’s ranitidine formula caused his esophageal cancer and sued the generic makers of the popular drug, which the FDA originally recalled in 2019 and fully recalled in 2020 due to concerns about a contaminant known as N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in ranitidine drugs.
Bayer has agreed to drop its lawsuit, which was to be held in an Illinois state court, after reaching a settlement of more than $500,000 with the drug’s generic makers: Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Perrigo Co., Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Inc. and Dr. Reddy Laboratories Inc.
There are approximately 1,700 active federal lawsuits against Zantac grouped in multidistrict litigation (MDL), with an additional 2,000 lawsuits filed at the state level in California and five other states. Four California trials of Zantac are scheduled for next year, with the first date scheduled for February. It is expected that as many as 50,000 additional Zantac cancer claims will be filed in the coming weeks.
The settlement did not include payments from the manufacturers of the Zantac brand: GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Boehringer Ingelheim. Bayer’s claims against those companies were also dismissed as part of the deal with the generic manufacturers. According to Bloomberg, Bayer is believed to have dropped claims against the brand name drug makers because his pre-trial deposition said he only took generic versions of Zantac. In court filings, however, the plaintiff claimed to have used both generic and branded versions.
Zantac came to market in 1983 as a prescription histamine-2 (H2) blocker. In 1995, an over-the-counter version became available. In 2021, Sanofi Pharmaceuticals launched a new over-the-counter version, containing the active ingredient famotidine as a replacement for ranitidine. Famotidine is known under the brand names Pepcid and Pepcid AC.
The plaintiffs suing the manufacturers of Zantac claimed that the drugmakers had known for many years that ranitidine under certain conditions, particularly hot and humid conditions, caused the active ingredient to break down, leading to the NMDA formation.