GSK settles first Zantac lawsuit due for trial in US

James Spargo | June 23, 2023 | News story | Medical Communications Cancer, GSK, Pharmacy, Zantac, lawsuit 

UK-based pharmaceutical and biotechnology company GSK has reached a settlement with a US man who claims the drugmaker’s heartburn medicine Zantac caused his cancer. This individual’s case was one of four set to go to court in California, US.

Introduced in 1981, Zantac (ranitidine), is a competitive, reversible inhibitor of histamine H2-receptors in gastric parietal cells. It results in a reduction in both gastric acid volume and concentration, so is used in the treatment of heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and other acid reflux illnesses. However, in 2019, Zantac was found to contain N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a probable carcinogen, and countries including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, EU members and the UK began recalling the drug. On 1 April 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled Zantac and its generic versions from the US market.

Through investigations, it was found that NDMA hadn’t been introduced to the drug, but that it had formed in the medication due to either incorrect storage or elevated temperatures. Since the discovery, more than 70,000 Zantac lawsuits from around the US have been filed in Delaware’s state court against GSK, as well as Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer and Sanofi, who also sold Zantac. In 2022, a Florida judge dismissed claims Zantac caused cancer on the grounds of “flawed science”, citing that experts couldn’t find “legitimate links” between the product and disease, which included lung, kidney and liver cancers. This means that the companies won’t have to face more than 5,000 lawsuits.

In a press release, GSK states: “The settlement reflects the Company’s desire to avoid distraction related to protracted litigation in this case. GSK does not admit any liability in this settlement and will continue to vigorously defend itself based on the facts and the science in all other Zantac cases.”

James Spargo

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