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A class action lawsuit has been filed against CVS, Walmart and various manufacturers of generic Zantac equivalents, seeking restitution for individuals who received recalled versions of the heartburn drug, which may have contained cancer-causing chemicals for years.
Stacey Koppell and Dan Zhovtis filed a complaint (PDF) this week in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeking class action status for anyone who purchased generic versions of Zantac sold at CVS under the name CVS Health Acid Reducer (CHAR), and sold at Walmart as Equate Ranitidine Tablets. The lawsuit names the manufacturer of the generic drug, Perrigo, as well as CVS and Walmart as defendants.
Over the past few weeks, a steady stream of Zantac recalls have been issued by various manufacturers of prescription, over-the-counter and generic versions of the medication, due to a risk that the drug may expose users to high levels of the chemical byproduct N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which increases the risk of cancer among humans.
This case joins a growing number of Zantac lawsuits filed in the wake of the recalls, indicating the entire country has been deceived about the safety of the heartburn drug for years. However, unlike the previous complaints filed, this Zantac class action lays blame on the pharmacies which sold the tainted drugs under their own labels as well.
The lawsuit notes consumers trust the names and expect drugs sold under their generic labels to be of good quality.
“Defendants CVS and Walmart marketed CHAR and Equate as safe and effective products,” the lawsuit notes. “In short, when consumers go to a CVS or Walmart store and purchase CHAR or Equate respectively, they expect that the medications will be safe and effective for the purpose for which it is purchased. They do not expect, and Defendants do not disclose, that the medications contain the harmful impurity NDMA.”
Zantac (ranitidine) has been widely used by millions of Americans for treatment of heart burn and acid reflux. However, in recent weeks, multiple manufacturers have issued Zantac recalls after independent testing confirmed the active ingredient may convert to NDMA when exposed to high temperatures, such as in a car or inside the human stomach.
NDMA is a chemical byproduct linked to reports of kidney cancer, stomach cancer, bladder cancer, small intestine cancer, liver cancer and other digestive tract cancers.
While the FDA’s permissible daily intake limit for NDMA is 96 ng, an online pharmacy, Valisure, recently determined that some Zantac tablets contain up to 3,000,000 ng of NDMA; 29,000 times the daily limit.
Following the findings, a Citizens Petition was filed that calls for the drug to be recalled from the market, and the FDA has issued warnings about the potential risk of Zantac NDMA contamination, indicating that the agency is continuing to investigate the issue.
The FDA first warned about the Zantac problems on September 13, indicating several different versions of the heartburn drug have been found to contain the impurity, which could cause cancer. As a result, major retailers have removed Zantac from store shelves, and nearly every version of the medication has now been recalled.