Practice Highlights - February 21, 2023

Defense Secures Win for Brand Name Drug Manufacturers in Zantac MDL

In Re: Zantac (Ranitidine) Products Liability Litigation, case No. 9:20-MD-02924 (S.D. Fla.)

Brand name drug manufacturers accused in sprawling multidistrict litigation over the heartburn medication Zantac secured a huge win after a Florida federal judge rejected all claims that the drug’s active ingredient ranitidine causes cancer.

In a 341-page order, U.S. District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg granted a summary judgment in favor of Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, and Sanofi. The MDL included over 2,450 plaintiffs and an estimated 150,000 additional registered claimants.

In the ruling, Judge Rosenberg found that plaintiffs could not establish general causation, adding that the plaintiffs’ scientists “systemically utilized unreliable methodologies” in determining whether ranitidine causes cancer.

Jones Foster Litigation Shareholder Joanne M. O’Connor served as local counsel for Sanofi and was appointed by Judge Rosenberg as Defendants’ Liaison Counsel shortly after the products liability MDL (case No. 20-MD-2924) was formed in the Southern District of Florida on Feb. 6, 2020. In her role as the point of contact for the transferee court, Joanne was charged with expediting the resolution of complex litigation through the centralized distribution of information among and between defense counsel, the coordination of defendant responses, and the streamlining of arguments and filings.

During the creation of defense leadership for the brand-name manufacturers, the court established a structure that included four (4) Co-Lead Counsel, Liaison Counsel, a Steering Committee, and a Leadership Development Committee. Diversity and innovative MDL leadership mentoring are notable in both the plaintiff and defendant leadership appointments by Judge Rosenberg.

The MDL stems from a U.S. Food & Drug Administration recall of Zantac and other prescription and over-the-counter medications containing ranitidine in April 2020. The FDA issued a warning in September 2019 that said a carcinogen known as NDMA was found in some ranitidine medicines, including Zantac, at low levels.

About Joanne M. O’Connor

Joanne is a Florida Bar Board Certified specialist in business litigation who focuses her practice on complex commercial litigation including contracts and business torts, partnership and corporate disputes, civil RICO, real estate and land use litigation, and lawyer and law firm defense. She counsels governmental entities on statutory, constitutional and civil rights claims and both governmental and private entities on Florida’s Public Records Act and Sunshine Law. She is an experienced litigator who advocates for her clients in jury and non-jury trials and appeals in state and federal courts and before private arbitration panels.

About Jones Foster

Jones Foster is a commercial and private client law firm headquartered in West Palm Beach, Florida. Established in 1924, the Firm has served as an integral part of South Florida’s growth and prosperity for nearly a century. Through a relentless pursuit of excellence, Jones Foster delivers original legal solutions that help clients, colleagues, and the community to move forward. The Firm’s attorneys focus their practice in Real Estate, Litigation & Dispute Resolution, Private Wealth, Trusts & Estates, Corporate & Tax, and Land Use & Governmental. For more information, please visit