A California judge is being urged by lawyers to allow expert witness testimony in a plaintiff’s Zantac trial that is scheduled to begin at the end of the month. Despite tens of thousands of federal Zantac cases having been dismissed in December due to a judge’s ruling that the claims lacked scientific evidence, Zantac lawsuits at the state level remain active. 

California resident James Goetz’s Zantac case is scheduled to begin Feb. 27 in an Alameda County court before Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo. Goetz alleges that he developed bladder cancer as a result of taking Zantac over the course of many years, ClaimsJournal reports.

The popular heartburn drug was recalled from the market in 2020. The FDA was concerned that when it was produced or stored above room temperature, the drug’s active ingredient, ranitidine, could degrade and subsequently form dangerously-high levels of the compound N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). NDMA levels were found to be highest the longer Zantac was stored.  

Goetz’s case is expected to set the tone for future state Zantac trials. The outcome of the case will be heavily influenced by which expert testimony Judge Grillo allows. 

Plaintiffs claim that there is substantial evidence, including research studies, that shows a strong relationship between ranitidine and the types of cancer allegedly caused by high levels of NDMA. 

Goetz’s lawsuit names the pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) as the defendant. In 1977, GSK became the first manufacturer of Zantac. Three subsequent Zantac makers—Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Sanofi SA—are also named as defendants. 

Federal Zantac claims were limited to 5 types of cancers: bladder, liver, pancreatic, stomach and esophageal. Zantac lawsuits filed at the state level include other types of cancers. 

Zantac has been reintroduced to the market under a different name—Zantac 360—and with a different active ingredient, famotidine, which has no known link to cancer.