In a May 7 court filing, lawyers representing more than 70,000 former Zantac users accused the drug’s maker of destroying emails connected to a 2019 recall of the heartburn medicine, according to a Bloomberg report. Without these emails, the plaintiffs will have a harder time proving that Sanofi and other defendants in the lawsuit permitted the tainting of Zantac with a suspected carcinogen.

Why the Emails Matter

Among the destroyed emails are those from Michael Bailey, who, as head of regulatory affairs for Zantac’s U.S. Consumer Health Division, is a key player in the case. Plaintiffs’ lawyers claim that by destroying these emails, Sanofi depositions have either been delayed and/or postponed.

Sanofi spokeswoman Ashleigh Koss insists that the email deletions did not reflect the company’s “intentional destruction of data.” She further assures that Sanofi is working to retrieve the missing information from “alternative sources.” According to Bloomberg, Sanofi is expected in August to deliver the results of the company’s investigation into the deletion of emails.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys have requested that the judge handling the Zantac case extend their allotted time for trial preparation because of the email-caused delays.

About the Zantac Lawsuit

The lawsuit against Sanofi also targets GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, 33 generic drug makers, 25 retailers, and four distributors of other companies accused of failure to adequately caution users about the health risks associated with Zantac. Regulators requested that the drug be pulled from U.S. and Canadian shelves after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered that the medicine’s ingredients included dangerous levels of nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).

NDMA is classified as a probable carcinogen, the FDA reported in September 2019. Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, issued a statement about the carcinogen in December 2019. In her statement, Woodcock reported that the acceptable daily intake limit for NDMA in the U.S. is 96 nanograms.  Studies have shown that a single dose of Zantac contains more than 3 million nanograms of the carcinogen.

Judge Robin Rosenberg is overseeing the consolidation of more than 1,300 Zantac lawsuits in the U.S. District Court Southern District of Florida. The first trials are set to begin in 2022, Bloomberg reports.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers have requested the establishment of two class actions: one for people who took Zantac and were diagnosed with cancer; the other for people who took Zantac and have not yet been diagnosed with cancer.

Sara Stephens is a freelance writer who has developed a hefty portfolio of work across several industries, with a strong emphasis on law, technology, and marketing. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, as well as various technology and consumer publications, both print and online. Sara also works as a freelance book editor, having developed and edited manuscripts for bestselling and novice authors alike, and as a verbal strategist for a Miami branding consultancy.