The first Zantac jury trial in the country, scheduled to start August 22, was dropped after four generic makers of the heartburn drug reached a settlement with the plaintiff, Bloomberg News reported. 

Plaintiff Joseph Bayer alleged that the ranitidine formula of Zantac caused his esophageal cancer and sued the generic makers of the popular medication, which the FDA initially recalled in 2019 and fully recalled in 2020 due to concerns of a contaminant known as N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in ranitidine medications.

Bayer agreed to drop his lawsuit, which was scheduled to be held in an Illinois state court, after reaching a settlement of more than $500,000 with generic makers of the drug: Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Perrigo Co., Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Inc. and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Inc.

There are approximately 1,700 active federal Zantac lawsuits consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL), with an additional 2,000 lawsuits filed at the state level in California and five other states. Four California Zantac trials are scheduled for next year, with the earliest date slated for February. As many as 50,000 additional Zantac cancer claims are projected to be filed in the coming weeks. 

The settlement did not include payments from the brand-name Zantac manufacturers: GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Boehringer Ingelheim. Bayer’s claims against these companies were also dismissed as part of the agreement with the generic manufacturers. According to Bloomberg, it is believed Bayer dropped claims against the branded drug makers because his pre-trial deposition stated that he only took generic versions of Zantac. In court filings, however, the plaintiff claimed he used both generic and branded versions. 

Zantac came to market in 1983 as a histamine-2 (H2) blocker prescription drug. In 1995, an over-the-counter version became available. In 2021, Sanofi Pharmaceuticals released a new over-the-counter version, featuring the active ingredient famotidine as a replacement to ranitidine. Famotidine is known by the branded names Pepcid and Pepcid AC. 

Plaintiffs filing lawsuits against Zantac manufacturers have claimed that drug makers have known for many years that ranitidine, under certain conditions, particularly under hot and humid conditions, caused the active ingredient to degrade, leading to NMDA formation.