GSK settles Zantac cases after claiming popular heartburn drug causes cancer

Top line

Pharma heavyweight GSK said on Wednesday it had settled four lawsuits in the US that claimed its popular heartburn drug Zantac caused cancer, blocking a trial that was due to begin in California next month as it and other pharmaceutical companies work to manage the looming regulatory threats posed by the discontinued drug. .

Major Events

The British drugmaker did not disclose terms of the agreement but said it had reached a confidential settlement in the Cantlay/Harper lawsuit filed in California state court.

GSK said that the case, which was scheduled for trial on November 13, will now be dismissed.

The company said it also settled three serious breast cancer cases in California and will be removed from the lawsuits and related pretrial hearings.

No further details about the settlements or this case were released.

GSK emphasized the settlement decisions reflect the company’s desire to avoid the distractions associated with protracted litigation and are not an admission of liability.

The pharmaceutical company said it will continue to vigorously defend itself based on facts and science in all other Zantac cases.

Key background

Zantac, sold under the generic name ranitidine, is the best-selling drug and one of the first drugs to achieve blockbuster status, reaching $1 billion in annual sales. This drug, used to treat ulcers and relieve heartburn, was developed and marketed in the early 1980s by Glaxo Holdings, a British company that later became part of GlaxoSmithKline, or GSK. . At various times, versions of Zantac were also marketed by other pharmaceutical companies including Haleon, Sanofi and Pfizer. In 2019, health regulators said they were investigating the drug over concerns it contained a possible carcinogen (something that can cause cancer) called NDMA, prompting many companies to commit suicide. voluntarily withdraw the drug from the market. In 2020, the Food and Drug Administration said the drug itself appeared to produce NDMA over time. It may be safe in small amounts but may cause cancer when consumed in large quantities and requires the withdrawal of all ranitidine drugs from the market. Then a wave of litigation against drug marketing companies slashed market capitalization by $30 billion last year amid growing concerns about potential liabilities, even though pharmaceutical companies said there was no scientific evidence to support claims of consumer harm.

What to pay attention to?

GSK, which settled a similar lawsuit in California in June, is still facing multiple Zantac-related lawsuits. Citi analysts estimate the company will settle all lawsuits against it for about $5 billion in the first quarter of 2024, according to Reuters.

Big number

79,000. That’s how many cases related to Zantac GSK still faces, according to Reuters. The majority of these, about 73,000, are in Delaware, which is considered a less challenging jurisdiction for large companies than California.

Read more

AstraZeneca settles lawsuits alleging heartburn drug causes kidney disease for $425 million (Forbes)

Zantacs maker kept quiet about cancer risk for 40 years (Bloomberg)

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