A Florida federal judge cut loose retailers and pharmacies from multidistrict litigation over the heartburn medication Zantac, ruling that consumers’ claims that the companies’ negligence played a part in a carcinogen forming in the drug were implausibly claimed. 

U.S. District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg dismissed Costco Wholesale Corp.,The Kroger Co., Inc. and a slew of other companies, freeing them from claims stemming from the cancer-causing chemical nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA, that formed in Zantac and its generic equivalent ranitidine.

Those retailers and pharmacies had contended that they were the wrong targets for the claims stemming from a carcinogen found in Zantac, and Judge Rosenberg agreed.

The suits in the MDL accused Sanofi SA, Pfizer Inc., Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline PLC — as well as generic-drug makers, retailers, distributors and active pharmaceutical ingredient makers — of false advertising, failure to warn and other claims associated with the alleged discovery of NDMA in the medication.

The dispute goes back to September 2019, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that trace amounts of NDMA were found in Zantac and similar generic drugs. Then, in April 2020, the agency pulled all prescription and over-the-counter ranitidine drugs from the market over concerns that the drugs, when stored at temperatures higher than room temperature, could result in exposure to unacceptable levels of the carcinogen.

The FDA has set an allowable daily limit of 96 nanograms of NDMA, but researchers have found more than 3 million nanograms in a dose of Zantac.


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