Two women recently filed lawsuits claiming that taking Zantac (ranitidine) regularly led to cancer diagnoses. One of the women lost a loved one to pancreatic cancer and the other woman was diagnosed with colon cancer. The women blame the cancer diagnoses on contamination of Zantac by N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies as a probable carcinogen.
The woman diagnosed with colon cancer said in her complaint that she took Zantac on a regular basis for over 20 years, using both the 150 mg and 75 mg doses. She said she started taking Zantac after having an endoscopy (a nonsurgical digestive tract examination) and being advised to reduce her levels of stomach acid.
The woman began by taking the 75 mg dose but eventually moved onto the 150 mg dose once it was available in the United States. She thought its effects would last longer and she took the drug as directed. The woman said that she trusted Zantac’s advertising, which said it would relieve sour stomach and acid reflux quickly, and would have never used the drug if she had known that taking it carried with it a cancer risk.
The woman was diagnosed with stage IIIC colon cancer in April 2018 and needed a surgery to remove a substantial portion of her colon. Chemo treatments followed, every two weeks for six months. The woman believes that Zantac caused her cancer.
The other woman filed a lawsuit on behalf of a loved one’s estate. She said in the lawsuit that the decedent ingested Zantac and followed the label’s instructions in relation to taking the medication. The lawsuit claims the decedent would not have taken Zantac if he had known about its cancer risk.
The decedent was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2018 and the woman blames this death on Zantac. The decedent died on August 31, 2019.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested in April that all drugs containing ranitidine be removed from the American market. The reason for the recall was NDMA contamination.
Lawsuits have alleged that ranitidine manufacturers knew or should have known that NDMA could have been in their drugs, and that they failed to warn the public of this cancer risk. Ranitidine experiment results were published in 1981 which found that “toxic and mutagenic effects” happened when ranitidine was exposed to nitrates and human gastric fluid, and these effects were said to have possibly happened because of the “formation of more than one nitroso derivative [which includes NDMA] under our experimental conditions.”
A response to these results from GlaxoSmithKline was published two weeks later in The Lancet, showing the Zantac manufacturer was aware of these experiment results.