A Valsartan lawsuit is a legal claim for money damages brought by a consumer who took the high blood pressure drug and was subsequently diagnosed with cancer. The lawsuits allege that many batches of Valsartan from 2012 to 2018 were contaminated with NDMA, a probable carcinogen. Hundreds of Valsartan products made in China have been recalled. This is the same carcinogen that is currently the subject of Zantac lawsuits.
Shouse Law Group is assisting victims from across the United States to bring lawsuits against the drug manufacturers. We are seeking to collect financial compensation for serious side effects and complications.
The current litigation is not a class action. It is a mass tort where each individual sues separately. Because of the large number of claims, the litigation has been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation based in New Jersey.
Our law firm is currently accepting cases that meet the following criteria:
- The patient took Valsartan during the period 2014 or later, and
- After at least one year of using the drug, the patient was diagnosed with one of the following cancers:
- Liver cancer,
- Stomach cancer,
- Intestinal cancer (including colon or rectal cancer),
- Esophageal cancer,
- Pancreatic cancer,
- Prostate cancer,
- Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, or
- Multiple myeloma
Patients who took Valsartan are advised to take the following five steps:
- Check here for FDA updates and to see if their particular medicine is on the recall list,
- Talk to their doctor about an alternative drug or treatment,
- Gather their medical and insurance records,
- Keep any recalled Valsartan they still have as evidence, and
- Talk to a Valsartan lawsuit attorney
There is a limited statute of limitations to file a claim. So contact an attorney quickly.
In this article, our Valsartan lawyers will answer the following six key questions about the current litigation:
- 1. What are the legal grounds for a Valsartan lawsuit?
- 2. What is the link between Valsartan and cancer?
- 3. Has the FDA issued recalls and warnings?
- 4. When will the case settle? How big will it be?
- 5. Is the litigation a class action?
- 6. How do I choose a lawyer?
Two common claims in the lawsuits are:
- The pills had a manufacturing defect; and
- The pills had improper labeling which failed to warn about the dangers
Plaintiffs do not need to prove that the manufacturers intended to cause harm or even that the manufacturers were negligent.
Instead, manufacturers are held “strictly liable” under products liability for their manufacturing defects and inadequate warning labels. This means that the plaintiff just needs to prove that the manufacturer made a major mistake that caused their illness.
1.1 Manufacturing defect
A manufacturing defect occurs when a product that has a safe design becomes unsafe due to poor construction.
Valsartan is an angiotensin ii receptor blocker (arbs) that is safe when it is compounded correctly. But several hundreds of lots became unsafe when they were contaminated during the manufacturing process with possible cancer-causing agents.
In order to win a manufacturing defect product liability claim, the plaintiff would need to prove:
- The drug had a manufacturing defect when it left the manufacturer’s possession; and
- This defect was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s harm
The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) has made public which lots of Valsartan contain carcinogens. So plaintiffs would need to show that that the pills they ingested came from those affected lots. Old pill bottles could serve as evidence of this, as well as prescription records from the pharmacy.
In order to prove that the Valsartan caused the plaintiff’s cancer, the plaintiffs’ attorneys could present such evidence as:
- Medical records that show the plaintiff developed cancer after taking Valsartan with presence of NDMA, and
- Expert witness testimony and medical journal articles explaining the link between Valsartan and cancer
1.2 Improper labeling/ failure to warn
All medication including Valsartan carries risk. Therefore, the manufacturers are required to disclose these risks in the form of warning labels and instructions.
However, none of the contaminated Valsartan pill bottles warned that they may contain carcinogens. Had doctors and patients known of this risk, they likely would have chosen another medication instead.
Failure to warn is a straightforward claim to prove in court. The plaintiffs’ attorneys would show how the pill packaging and instructions omitted important information. And the plaintiffs can testify that they would not have taken the pills but for this misinformation.1
The chemical NDMA that contaminated more than one thousand lots of Valsartan medications has been shown to cause cancer. NDMA is short for N-nitrosodimethylamine. In short, the active ingredient valsartan is a cancer risk due to NDMA contamination.
Authorities believe that Valsartan contamination is an unexpected byproduct of changes in how the drug is manufactured. The contamination has apparently been taking place since 2012. This is when ZHP of China started manufacturing the generic drug pills. ZHP stands for Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals. It made most of the world’s Valsartan.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies NDMA as a “probable human carcinogen.” This means that it probably causes cancer in humans.
Scientists have already confirmed that NDMA causes cancer in animals. Scientists often use NDMA to cause cancer in rats for research. Animal studies have associated NDMA with the following diseases:
- Colorectal cancer,
- Gastric cancer,
- Liver cancer, and
- Kidney cancer2
In the past, people have even used NDMA as poison in murders:
- In 1978, a German court convicted a chemistry teacher who attempted to murder his wife by mixing NDMA into her blackberry jam.
- Also in 1978, a court sentenced a man in Omaha, Nebraska, to death for killing a baby and a 24-year-old man by putting NDMA into their lemonade.
- In 2013, a student in China put NDMA into a water cooler and poisoned his roommate. He died 15 days later.3
In addition, the World Health Organization lists NDMA as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Federal regulations list NDMA as a “priority toxic pollutant.”4 The U.S. National Library of Medicine says NDMA is “reasonably anticipated” to cause cancer in humans. A 2018 Danish study showed that NDMA exposure can cause cancer of the liver, stomach, colon, rectum, and pancreas. And the EPA reports that NDMA exposure may cause liver damage.
NDMA has been used to make liquid rocket fuel, softeners, lubricants, and other industrial products. NDMA is a byproduct of some pesticide and rubber tire manufacturing. The WHO states NDMA is a byproduct from municipal wastewater treatment facilities and some industrial manufacturing facilities.5
The FDA ran further tests on Valsartan batches that contained NDMA and found a second carcinogen in some of the drugs. This second carcinogen is called N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA). NDEA causes cancer in animals and is used to induce liver tumors for research. It is also “reasonably anticipated” to cause cancer in humans.
(Note that man Valsartan pills were compounded with hydrochlorothiazide, which is a water pill and is safe.)
No. But several drug companies voluntarily recalled their lots of the high blood-pressure medication. And the FDA banned any imports of drugs made by ZHP in China.
Drug manufacturers who recalled Valsartan include:
- Camber Pharmaceuticals
- Hetero Labs
- Major Pharmaceuticals
- Solco Healthcare
- Prinston Pharmaceuticals – Prinston is a division of ZHP
- Actavis/ Teva Pharmaceuticals
- Torrent Pharmaceuticals
Novartis makes brand name Valsartan, called Diovan. It remains on the market. (The patent for Diovan expired in 2012.)
Settlements are still at least a couple of years away. First a few Valsartan cases will to trial. The results of these bellwether trials are crucial. They help plaintiffs’ attorneys gauge how to negotiate and how much money they can demand.
In any case, plaintiffs’ attorneys will fight for enough money to cover:
- All medical costs;
- Lost income from being too ill to work;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Any other out-of-pocket expenses
The drug companies can afford big settlements. In 2017, more than 10 billion Valsartan pills sold worldwide.
No. But all the plaintiffs’ lawsuits consolidate into an MDL. This is short for multi-district litigation.
MDLs are similar to class actions. Plaintiffs join forces to sue the same defendants. And it helps to streamline pretrial proceedings.
But class actions combine everything into one case. MDLs keep each case separate. This gives each plaintiff more bargaining power.
Currently, there is one Valsartan MDL against the pharmaceutical companies:
- In re: Valsartan NDMA Products Liability Litigation. MDL # 2875. Federal Court, District of New Jersey. Judges Robert B Kugler and Joel Schneider.
The judges will allow about five cases to reach trial. How these bellwether trials turn out sets the tone for negotiations.
Choose a personal injury attorney committed to fighting for the maximum possible settlement and staying in contact with clients.
Steer clear of lawyers who want payment upfront. Reputable attorneys accept no money unless they win the case.
Look for attorneys with a track record against Big Pharma. Drug companies hire bullying law firms. They do everything to intimidate victims and delay proceedings.
But experienced plaintiffs’ attorneys stay the course and they have one focus: Recovering the largest financial reward available.
Contact our Valsartan lawsuit attorneys if you or a loved one developed cancer after Valsartan use. Call or fill out the form on this page. We offer free consultations 24/7.
See, e.g., Mut. Pharm. Co. v. Bartlett, 570 U.S. 472, 481-483 (2013).
- See Public Health Statement, CDC. Many people took Valsartan and irbesartan to relax blood vessels and prevent heart attacks. So patients should discuss alternatives with their doctors to keep protecting their heart.
- See Chase Purdy, A common blood-pressure medicine is being recalled because of a toxic ingredient, Quartz (July 18, 2018).
- 40 CFR §131.36.
- Muhammad Junaid Farrukh, Muhammad Haseeb Tariq, Obaidullah Malik, and Tahir Mehmood Khan, Valsartan recall: global regulatory overview and future challenges, Ther Adv Drug Saf. (January 18, 2019).