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People in West Virginia deserve to know when a common medication has been pulled from the market. That’s what happened recently with ranitidine, marketed under the brand name Zantac. Tests showed that Zantac didn’t just block histamines to treat heartburn; this drug also reportedly contains a cancer-causing compound known as NDMA.

When did they know?

The government is going over records with a fine-toothed comb to find out when manufacturers Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline knew their product was harmful. There’s some evidence to suggest that people knew Zantac breaks down into NDMA as early as the 1980s. A researcher published a paper to that effect in the respected journal The Lancet in 1981. That same year, Glaxo Group Research made a response to the paper challenging its assertions.

If government investigators conclude that GlaxoSmithKline knew of the risks when it brought Zantac to the marketplace, the company could be exposed to a mass tort. This is a lawsuit where many plaintiffs with similar problems sue together. Usually, this is used when companies have perpetrated fraud or negligence in the marketplace.

The Department of Justice is currently pursuing GlaxoSmithKline under a law known as the False Claims Act. This federal law dates to the Lincoln Administration. It protects whistleblowers and punishes companies that lie about the effectiveness of their products. The False Claims Act is designed to ensure that Americans are able to choose from effective products to treat their ailments.

Anyone who has been affected by the Zantac recall and investigation might consider contacting an attorney. It’s important to hold negligent companies accountable for their actions, especially when their deceptions may cause cancers. An experienced lawyer may be able to help plaintiffs get significant damages for the pain and suffering they’ve endured.