The federal judge in charge of the multidistrict litigation over Zantac’s connection with cancer has sharply reduced the number of defendants. U.S. District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg has dismissed claims against retailers, pharmacies, and generic manufacturers.

Zantac has been the subject of an MDL following the discovery that the main ingredient, ranitidine, can break down into the cancer-causing agent NDMA. These lawsuits have also focused on those who manufacture, advertise, and sell Zantac and its generic forms. The lawsuits are based on the claim that these groups should have known that ranitidine breaks down into a carcinogenic substance and could increase cancer risk.

The MDL has centered in the U.S. District Court For The Southern District of Florida under Judge Rosenberg. In her order, Judge Rosenberg has determined that generic manufacturers cannot be held responsible for issues with ranitidine, since federal law prevents generic products from displaying a different label than was approved for the name brand version of the drug. Judge Rosenberg determined that the lawsuits against the generic manufacturer are preempted since the law does not allow the generics to be labeled differently.

Judge Rosenberg also dismissed claims against retailers including:

  • Albertsons Cos. Inc.
  • Inc
  • Costco Wholesale Corp.
  • CVS Pharmacy Inc.
  • The Kroger Co.
  • Walgreen Co.

As opposed to the preemption argument presented by the generic manufacturers, the retailers argued that they were not the correct targets for these lawsuit claims. 

The pharmacies and distributors posed that their core purpose is to transport and store product in the proper way. In his opinion, Judge Rosenberg said that “if they are alleged to have systematically failed in that core purpose for forty years, that is a weighty allegation that must be accompanied with at least one concrete allegation of breach to become plausible.”

According to Rosenberg, this concrete allegation is not present and the cases were dismissed. While a number of defendants have been dismissed, the remaining defendants are still being examined as the cases move forward. Without the extra defendants, the plaintiffs will be able to focus on the parties that the court agrees are valid.