A Delaware judge is currently deliberating on the fate of thousands of Zantac lawsuits, assessing whether they will proceed in state court following a prior federal dismissal.
Zantac, or ranitidine, a popular heartburn and acid reflux medication, was withdrawn from the market in 2019 due to the discovery that its active ingredient is inherently unstable, generating high levels of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a known carcinogen.
In the past four years, major pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline, Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer, and Sanofi have faced Zantac lawsuits from former users who allege various cancers, attributing them to NDMA exposure. Initially centralized in federal court for coordinated proceedings, a controversial 2022 ruling excluded all plaintiffs' expert witnesses under federal evidentiary rules, resulting in the dismissal of federal Zantac lawsuits.
Appeals challenging the federal ruling are underway, but its impact is limited to federal cases, allowing Zantac lawsuits in state courts, including Delaware and California, to continue. In Delaware, a judge is now considering manufacturers' arguments to dismiss over 70,000 lawsuits, claiming they lack scientific support. The outcome of these hearings may dictate the future of Zantac litigation in the state, mirroring the federal situation. If the judge follows a similar standard and excludes expert witnesses, it could spell the end of the litigation.
While GlaxoSmithKline reached a settlement in November, resolving the first California state trial and three other slated trials, these outcomes wouldn't set legal precedents for other pending lawsuits. The trials were seen as indicators of how juries might respond to evidence and testimony, with the potential to influence tens of thousands of nationwide trials.
The Delaware judge is expected to apply similar legal standards as the federal court but may reach a different conclusion. Unlike federal cases, Delaware employs different expert witnesses, introducing a unique dynamic. The ongoing proceedings underscore the complexity of Zantac litigation, with the potential to impact thousands of claimants seeking accountability for alleged cancer-related injuries due to the now-recalled medication.
The decision in Delaware will be pivotal, determining whether these cases advance and providing insights into the evolving landscape of Zantac litigation at the state level.