West Palm Beach County Historic Courthouse; West Palm Beach, FL
Christina Grube, MTN Correspondent
(MASS TORT NEWS) Judge Robin L. Rosenberg granted the defendants summary judgment in MDL 2924 for Zantac, resulting in the dismissal of plaintiff experts. In the 341 page judgment, Rosenburg ruled that the studies of animals which plaintiff experts used to support their scientific belief of ranitidine causing the designated case cancers (bladder, esophageal, gastric, liver and pancreatic) as not strong enough.
Baum Hedlund Partner Brent Wisner seemed unsurprised at the court’s ruling, telling MTN, “I learned early on that the direction of this MDL was not looking out for the best interests of the victims. I am glad my firm realized this and focused on filing in state court.”
Wisner continued, “We have our first trial scheduled for February 13, 2023, in Oakland, California, in the same court where we obtained the $2 billion verdict for the Pilliods against Monsanto in 2019. I feel very confident about the science in our favor and I am looking forward to the Sargon hearings (similar to Daubert but in state court) in January and getting to trial in February. Our clients are suffering from all types of cancers and deserve justice.”
Public concern over Zantac (or rather, the brand’s active ingredient ranitidine) began in 2019 when the independent laboratory Valisure detected high levels of the carcinogen NDMA in Zantac during random batch testing. As a result, FDA did not recall the drugs, but rather encouraged companies to willingly remove antacids containing ranitidine from shelves and distribution lines. The FDA choosing not to officially recall the drug complicates what initially appears to be a straight-forward defective pharmaceutical case.
By 2020, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated plaintiff claims into the Florida MDL 2924, and in 2021, producers replaced ranitidine with a safer alternative, thalidomide, and returned Zantac to shelves. Commercial ranitidine distributor GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) told EndpointsNews the plaintiff received no payout or out-of-court settlement for withdrawing the case. “The overwhelming weight of the scientific evidence supports the conclusion that there is no increased cancer risk associated with the use of ranitidine.”
The judgment will serve to stall the MDL while plaintiff leaders appeal the judgment and submit new experts. Despite the delay, the MDL remains far from over.