A Virginia woman alleges in a new product liability lawsuit that carcinogenic chemicals produced by the recalled heartburn drug Zantac caused her to develop esophageal cancer.
In the complaint, filed in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey, Deborah Haskins, of Ridgeway, alleges that Zantac’s active ingredient, ranitidine, formed unsafe levels of a known human carcinogen in her body.
Haskins said that she began using Zantac in 2005, taking at least one 75mg tablet a day. She was later diagnosed with esophageal cancer, apparently due to the drug. Following this, Haskins has decided to sue the drug’s makers for battery due to the failure of warning consumers of the risks.
Haskins is joining the growing lawsuit against the Zantac manufacturer.
Haskins asserts that ranitidine’s chemical structure is “inherently unstable” and can break down during digestion and produce the cancer-causing agent NDMA.
Previous studies conducted on animals showed that NDMA has been linked to several cancers, such as colon and rectum, kidneys, liver, and stomach.
The lawsuit named Sanofi, Zantac’s current manufacturer in the U.S. as a defendant. It also included previous makers, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals and GlaxoSmithKline.
While research has not explicitly linked Zantac to cancer, the esophagus is acted upon by the drug. Symptoms of esophageal cancer include trouble swallowing, chest pains, indigestion, heartburn, and unexplainable weight loss. Treatment can range from immunotherapy to radiation, to chemotherapy. If at an advanced stage, surgery may also be necessary to remove some or most of the esophagus.
Prior to being subjected to a rash of recalls beginning in September 2019, Zantac was one of the best-selling medications in history, widely used in both prescription and over-the-counter form by people across the country struggling with heartburn and other similar conditions.
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Haskins claimed in the lawsuit that if she knew Zantac contained unsafe levels of the carcinogen NMDA, she never would have taken the heartburn medication. Her lawsuit hopes to compensate her for lost wages, medical expenses, and “loss of enjoyment of life,” because of deadly cancer.
Zantac and all ranitidine generic drugs were removed from the market in October 2019 due to the potentially harmful effects of the medication. The FDA claimed that people could take 96 nanograms of NDMA without consequences. An independent test of Zantac found it contained NDMA “in excess of 3,000,000 nanograms per tablet.”
Following the FDA disclosure, pharmacy chains like CVS Health, the Kroger Company, Rite Aid, and Walgreens announced that they would be suspending the sale of Zantac and their genetic versions.
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