Pharmaceutical giant GSK announced on Friday that it has reached a settlement with a U.S. citizen, averting the first lawsuit regarding their discontinued heartburn drug, Zantac, from going to trial. The case, filed by California resident James Goetz in Alameda County Superior Court, was slated for a trial on July 24 and would have served as a pivotal examination of Zantac cancer claims before a jury.
In a move to prevent prolonged legal proceedings, GSK and the plaintiff reached a confidential settlement, leading to the dismissal of the trial. GSK emphasized that the resolution was aimed at avoiding potential distractions caused by protracted litigation, without admitting any liability.
Additionally, GSK reiterated its commitment to vigorously defend itself against other Zantac-related lawsuits, relying on factual evidence and scientific analysis.
Zantac, originally marketed by a precursor to GSK Plc, was subsequently sold to Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, and ultimately Sanofi. These companies are also confronting lawsuits regarding the drug, consistently refuting any allegations that Zantac can induce cancer.
Introduced in 1983, Zantac swiftly surpassed $1 billion in annual sales, solidifying its position as a popular medication. However, in 2019, several manufacturers and pharmacies suspended Zantac sales due to concerns surrounding the degradation of its active ingredient, ranitidine, which can generate a compound known as NDMA over time.
NDMA, found in minute quantities in food and water, has been demonstrated to be carcinogenic in significant doses. Consequently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration withdrew all remaining Zantac brands, including their generic counterparts, from the market in 2020, prompting an influx of lawsuits.
In March, a California judge denied GSK’s request to exclude expert testimony regarding the potential link between the drug and cancer from the scheduled trial.
Furthermore, a Canadian court recently dismissed a proposed class action lawsuit concerning Zantac and its alleged elevated cancer risks.