Lexitas Designs A Groundbreaking Collaborative Record Retrieval Solution For One Of The World’s Largest MDLs
In Re: Zantac (Ranitidine) Products Liability Litigation concerns the heartburn medication Zantac. More specifically, this matter concerns the ranitidine molecule—the active ingredient of Zantac. The Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation formed this MDL (number 2924) on February 6, 2020 and the matter now has an estimated 156,000 plaintiffs. The critical need for efficient medical record retrieval was identified early on due to the large number of plaintiffs, the varieties of medical ailments and sheer volume of medical records. What makes Zantac unique among MDLs is the collaborative approach taken by the MDL team and their vendor partners. The 156 plaintiff firms and the two main defense firms agreed to work together on all pre-trial and tort proceedings, vendor selection, and to share the costs of medical record retrieval.
Lexitas was selected as the exclusive record retrieval vendor for this MDL, handling all documents, redactions and establishing the workflow of medical record review from plaintiff to defense. A fast ramp-up was essential for this case and within one month, Lexitas customized the Zoho software platform to handle this intricate MDL workflow providing the plaintiff and defense firms a dedicated portal through Amazon Web Services (AWS) and a secured FTP site - all through a single, secure interface. To fully support this MDL, Lexitas built a dedicated team of 6 account managers, over 40 record support specialists and 7 supporting team members who to date have handled over 108,000 medical records orders. The team has also facilitated communication with LMI, Special Master, Judge and MDL Leadership.
Collaboration and Cost-Sharing
The unique workflow built by Lexitas and the other vendors solved for several common pain points in large MDL cases:
Zantac Leadership collaborated and worked with LMI to create a common census form which allowed for the streamlining of information and created additional efficiency.
Plaintiff firms were able to get 15 days to review the medical records instead of doing a simultaneous review with defense
Because both sides were working with the same set of medical records, costs were split 50/50 This cost sharing arrangement between plaintiff and defense firms is the first one of its kind and has resulted in an average cost savings of over 50%.
Challenges and Lessons Learned
As with most firsts, some challenges and lessons have arisen throughout this process. At origination, the class action encompassed 10 attributable cancers purportedly related to the extended use of Zantac. Based on the volume and other factors, this was first reduced to 8 cancers and now there are 5 qualifying cancers. The reductions in cancers were made to narrow the litigation, the other 5 cancers may still be litigated separately at some point. LMI, a third party who cures the plaintiffs regarding their medical condition, has been instrumental in keeping Lexitas updated as plaintiff’s have been cured. Lexitas worked closely with LMI, the census provider, to ensure that only records requests from ‘cured’ plaintiffs were approved and delivered. The Lexitas team has been very nimble and able to make continuous improvements to this ongoing process. The cured plaintiffs and reduction in cancers has been navigated through vigorous communications and information sharing from LMI. This has helped to reduce or close orders for non-cured plaintiffs, which has been a time and cost savings.
Invoicing can be complicated in cost-sharing arrangements and we recommend tackling this process early to create a smooth path for invoice delivery and payment. Communication and transparency is essential to building the correct invoicing procedures.
An Eye to the future
Zantac can serve as a potential model for future MDL cases in terms of collaboration, transparency and cost-sharing. The collaborative approach taken by the MDL leadership team delivered significant cost and time savings for all parties. Bellwether cases for Zantac are scheduled to begin in July ‘23 and the outcome of these cases will determine what direction this litigation heads next.
“The Zantac MDL has been an amazing experience for our Lexitas Records Division. The collaboration between Plaintiff Leadership, Defense Leadership and the Court laid out clear objectives which enabled us to operate efficiently and successfully throughout the life cycle of this litigation. The thought leadership and strategic engagement with the litigation enabled us to showcase our ability to pivot, innovate and build a next level approach to MDL record retrieval support. I am proud of our performance, and grateful for the opportunity we were given to bring our solutions to the table,” said Lexitas Records Division President, Brandy Patrick.
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