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Individuals in West Virginia who have used the heartburn medication Zantac may be interested in learning that its original maker, GlaxoSmithKline, and the company that has the U.S. rights to sell it under the brand name Zantac, Sanofi, are under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. Under question is whether the companies were aware that Zantac and its generic versions contained a probable carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent, and did not inform the federal government.

NDMA

The generic of Zantac is ranitidine, and GlaxoSmithKline is one of several companies that sells the generic version of the drug. Ranitidine contains a substance known as NDMA, which is considered a probable carcinogen for humans. Concerns about NDMA’s presence in ranitidine led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to request that all prescription and over-the-counter ranitidine be removed from the market.

Notice and lawsuits

French-based Sanofi reports receipt of information requests, notification of the investigation and FDA-related communication on June 6. England-based GlaxoSmithKline says it received notice on June 18. In June, a related New Mexico state lawsuit was fired. It claims that manufacturers of ranitidine violated public nuisance laws, negligence laws, the False Advertising Act and the New Mexico Unfair Practices Act.

Companies are obligated to provide the public with safe products and act if they have reason to believe that something is unsafe. A case like this could be a candidate for mass tort litigation. Like a class action suit, mass tort litigation comes into play when many consumers are harmed by a product. However, a class action suit involves many plaintiffs and one claim while a mass tort involves many plaintiffs filing individual claims. Individuals who believe they may have suffered harm as a result of hazardous products may want to contact a lawyer to discuss their rights and the next steps they should take.