In re Zantac (Ranitidine) Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL NO. 2924

CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of Florida
Writing for the CourtROBIN L. ROSENBERG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Parties IN RE: ZANTAC (RANITIDINE) PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION
Docket Number20-MD-2924,MDL NO. 2924
Decision Date08 January 2021

512 F.Supp.3d 1278

IN RE: ZANTAC (RANITIDINE) PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION

MDL NO. 2924
20-MD-2924

United States District Court, S.D. Florida.

Signed January 8, 2021


512 F.Supp.3d 1280

ORDER GRANTING BRANDED DEFENDANTS’ RULE 12 PARTIAL MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFFS’ THREE COMPLAINTS AS PREEMPTED BY FEDERAL LAW

ROBIN L. ROSENBERG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

512 F.Supp.3d 1281

This matter is before the Court on the Branded Defendants’ ("Defendants") Rule 12 Partial Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ Three Complaints as Preempted by Federal Law ("Motion to Dismiss"). DE 1580. The Court held a hearing on the Motion to Dismiss on December 15, 2020 ("the Hearing"). See DE 2499. The Court has carefully considered the Motion to Dismiss, the Plaintiffs’ Response [1976], the Defendants’ Reply [DE 2134], the Plaintiffs’ Notice of Supplemental Authority [DE 2159], the arguments that the parties made during the Hearing, and the record and is otherwise fully advised in the premises. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED .

I. Factual Background1

This case concerns the pharmaceutical product Zantac and its generic forms, which are widely sold as heartburn and gastric treatments. The molecule in question—ranitidine—is the active ingredient in both Zantac and its generic forms.

Zantac has been sold since the early 1980's, first by prescription and later as an over-the-counter ("OTC") medication. In 1983, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") approved the sale of prescription Zantac. MPIC ¶¶ 226, 231, 432. GlaxoSmithKline ("GSK") first developed and patented Zantac. Id. ¶ 230. Zantac was a blockbuster – the first prescription drug in history to reach $1 billion in sales. ¶ 231.

GSK entered into a joint venture with Warner-Lambert in 1993 to develop an OTC form of Zantac. Id. ¶ 233. Beginning in 1995, the FDA approved the sale of various forms of OTC Zantac. Id. ¶¶ 233, 237. The joint venture between GSK and Warner-Lambert ended in 1998, with Warner-Lambert retaining control over the sale of OTC Zantac in the United States and GSK retaining control over the sale of prescription Zantac in the United States. Id. ¶ 234. Pfizer acquired Warner-Lambert in 2000 and took control of the sale of OTC Zantac in the United States. Id. ¶ 235. The right to sell OTC Zantac in the United States later passed to Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals and then to Sanofi. Id. ¶¶ 239-40, 242-44. When the patents on prescription and OTC Zantac expired, numerous generic drug manufacturers began to produce generic ranitidine products in prescription and OTC forms. Id. ¶¶ 249-51.

Scientific studies have demonstrated that ranitidine can transform into a cancer-causing molecule called N-nitrosodimethylamine ("NDMA"), which is part of a carcinogenic group of compounds called N-nitrosamines. Id. ¶¶ 253, 321, 324, 331. Studies have shown that these compounds increase the risk of cancer in humans and animals. Id. ¶¶ 253, 264-72. The FDA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer consider NDMA to be a probable human carcinogen. Id. ¶¶ 254, 258. The FDA has set the acceptable daily intake

512 F.Supp.3d 1282

level for NDMA at 96 nanograms. Id. ¶¶ 4, 263.

Valisure LLC and ValisureRX LLC, a pharmacy and testing laboratory, filed a Citizen Petition on September 9, 2019, calling for the recall of all ranitidine products due to high levels of NDMA in the products. Id. ¶ 285. The FDA issued a statement on September 13 warning that some ranitidine products may contain NDMA. Id. ¶ 286. On November 1, the FDA announced that testing had revealed the presence of NDMA in ranitidine products. Id. ¶ 296. The FDA recommended that drug manufacturers recall ranitidine products with NDMA levels above the acceptable daily intake level. Id. Six months later, on April 1, 2020, the FDA requested the voluntary withdrawal of all ranitidine products from the market. Id. ¶ 301.

II. Procedural Background

After the discovery that ranitidine products may contain NDMA, Plaintiffs across the country began initiating lawsuits related to their purchase and/or use of the products. On February 6, 2020, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation created this multi-district litigation ("MDL") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 for all pretrial purposes and ordered federal lawsuits for personal injury and economic damages from the purchase and/or use of ranitidine products to be transferred to the undersigned. DE 1. Since that time, hundreds of Plaintiffs have filed lawsuits in, or had their lawsuits transferred to, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. In addition, this Court has created a Census Registry where thousands of claimants who have not filed lawsuits have registered their claims. See DE 547.

Plaintiffs filed three Master Complaints on June 22, 2020. DE 887, 888, 889. Plaintiffs contend that the ranitidine molecule is unstable, breaks down into NDMA, and has caused thousands of consumers of ranitidine products to develop various forms of cancer. MPIC ¶¶ 1, 6, 19. Plaintiffs allege that "a single pill of ranitidine can contain quantities of NDMA that are hundreds of times higher" than the FDA's allowable limit. Id. ¶ 4. Plaintiffs are pursuing federal claims and state claims under the laws of all 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. See generally CCCAC. The entities named as defendants are alleged to have designed, manufactured, tested, marketed, distributed, labeled, packaged, handled, stored, and/or sold ranitidine products. MPIC ¶¶ 20, 225.

The Court has entered numerous Pretrial Orders to assist in the management of this MDL. In Pretrial Order # 30, the Court set a case management schedule that is intended to prepare the MDL for the filing of Daubert motions on general causation and class certification motions in December 2021. DE 875; see generally Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc. , 509 U.S. 579, 113 S.Ct. 2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469 (1993). In Pretrial Order # 36, the Court set a schedule for the filing and briefing of motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12 directed to the Master Complaints. DE 1346. Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss pursuant to that schedule.

III. The Master Complaints

A. Master Personal Injury Complaint

All individuals who file a Short Form Complaint (collectively, the "MPIC Plaintiffs") adopt the MPIC. MPIC at 2.2 The MPIC Plaintiffs allege that they developed cancers from taking ranitidine products. Id. at 1. The MPIC "sets forth allegations of fact and law common to the personal-injury

512 F.Supp.3d 1283

claims" within the MDL. Id. at 1. Each MPIC Plaintiff individually seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, restitution, and all other available remedies. Id. at 1-2.

The defendants named in the MPIC (collectively, the "MPIC Defendants") are entities that "designed, manufactured, marketed, distributed, labeled, packaged, handled, stored, and/or sold ranitidine." Id. ¶ 20. They are categorized by the MPIC Plaintiffs into five groups: (1) Brand-Name Manufacturer Defendants; (2) Generic Manufacturer Defendants; (3) Distributor Defendants; (4) Retailer Defendants; and (5) Repackager Defendants. Some MPIC Defendants belong to multiple categories.3 Within each category, the MPIC combines distinct corporate entities, including parents, subsidiaries, and affiliates, into single named MPIC Defendants.4 Certain allegations apply to MPIC Defendants across multiple groups.5

The MPIC contains 15 counts: Strict Products Liability—Failure to Warn (Count I), Strict Products Liability—Design Defect (Count II), Strict Products Liability—Manufacturing Defect (Count III), Negligence—Failure to Warn (Count IV), Negligence Product Design (Count V), Negligent Manufacturing (Count VI), General Negligence (Count VII), Negligent Misrepresentation (Count VIII), Breach of Express Warranties (Count IX), Breach of Implied Warranties (Count X), Violation of Consumer Protection and Deceptive Trade Practices Laws (Count XI), Unjust Enrichment (Count XII), Loss of Consortium (Count XIII), Survival Actions (Count XIV), and Wrongful Death (Count XV). Counts I, II, IV, VII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV and XV are brought against every MPIC Defendant. Counts V and VIII are brought against every Brand-Name Manufacturer, Generic Manufacturer and Repackager Defendant. Counts III and VI are brought against every Brand-Name Manufacturer and Generic Manufacturer Defendant.

B. Consolidated Consumer Class Action Complaint

One hundred and eighty-three named individuals (collectively, the "CCCAC Plaintiffs") bring the CCCAC on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated.6 The CCCAC Plaintiffs are citizens of nearly every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. There are no CCCAC Plaintiffs who reside in or purchased ranitidine products from Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, North Dakota, Rhode Island, or South Dakota. Each CCCAC Plaintiff asserts that he or she purchased and/or used a ranitidine product during an approximate timeframe.

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  • Digital Age Mktg. Grp., Inc. v. Sentinel Ins. Co., CASE NO. 20-61577-CIV-DIMITROULEAS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • January 8, 2021
    ...that Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [DE-5] is GRANTED . Although it may be futile the Court will grant Plaintiff leave to file an 512 F.Supp.3d 1278 amended complaint to be filed on or before January 22, 2021.DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida, this 8th ......
  • The Ten Best Prescription Drug/Medical Device Decisions of 2021
    • United States
    • LexBlog United States
    • December 30, 2021
    ...(here); Graham v. Mentor Worldwide LLC, 998 F.3d 800 (8th Cir. 2021) (here); In re Zantac (Ranitidine) Products Liability Litigation, 512 F. Supp.3d 1278 (S.D. Fla. 2021) (here); In re Xarelto (Rivaroxaban) Products Liability Litigation, 2021 WL 2853069 (E.D. La July 8, 2021) (here); Lowery......
1 cases
  • Digital Age Mktg. Grp., Inc. v. Sentinel Ins. Co., CASE NO. 20-61577-CIV-DIMITROULEAS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • January 8, 2021
    ...that Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [DE-5] is GRANTED . Although it may be futile the Court will grant Plaintiff leave to file an 512 F.Supp.3d 1278 amended complaint to be filed on or before January 22, 2021.DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida, this 8th ......
1 firm's commentaries
  • The Ten Best Prescription Drug/Medical Device Decisions of 2021
    • United States
    • LexBlog United States
    • December 30, 2021
    ...(here); Graham v. Mentor Worldwide LLC, 998 F.3d 800 (8th Cir. 2021) (here); In re Zantac (Ranitidine) Products Liability Litigation, 512 F. Supp.3d 1278 (S.D. Fla. 2021) (here); In re Xarelto (Rivaroxaban) Products Liability Litigation, 2021 WL 2853069 (E.D. La July 8, 2021) (here); Lowery......

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