🔥 Premium AI-powered Stock Picks from InvestingPro Now up to 50% OffCLAIM SALE

Delaware judge lets more than 70,000 Zantac lawsuits go forward

Published 2024-06-03, 04:56 a/m
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Zantac heartburn pills are seen in this picture illustration taken October 1, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/Illustration/File Photo

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) -A Delaware judge has allowed more than 70,000 lawsuits over discontinued heartburn drug Zantac to go forward, ruling that expert witnesses can testify in court that the drug may cause cancer.

The ruling on Friday by Judge Vivian Medinilla of the Delaware Superior Court in Wilmington is a setback for former Zantac makers GSK (LON:GSK), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), Sanofi (EPA:SASY) and Boehringer Ingelheim, which had argued that the expert witnesses' opinions lacked scientific support.

Medinilla wrote that the strength of each sides' scientific arguments should be decided by juries.

"Delaware courts are loath to step into the heart of technical debate between opposing scientists," she said.

“This moves us one step closer to justice for our clients,” Brent Wisner, one of the plaintiffs' lead lawyers, said in a statement on Saturday.

GSK, Pfizer and Sanofi said in separate statements that they disagreed with the decision and would appeal. They said there was no reliable evidence showing Zantac caused cancer. A spokesperson for Boehringer Ingelheim did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In 2019, some manufacturers and pharmacies halted Zantac sales after a chemical called NDMA, which is known to cause cancer, was detected in some pills. Some tests showed that Zantac's active ingredient, ranitidine, could degrade into NDMA over time or when exposed to heat.

Lawsuits began piling up from people who said they developed cancer after taking Zantac. Plaintiffs said the companies knew, or should have known, that ranitidine posed a cancer risk and that they failed to warn consumers.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration asked manufacturers to pull the drug off the market in 2020. The drugmakers have maintained that there is no evidence Zantac exposed users to harmful levels of NDMA.

Medinilla is presiding over the majority of nearly 80,000 cases still pending in the United States over Zantac, which was once the world's top-selling drug.

In addition to the cases in Delaware, the drugmakers are facing about 4,000 claims in California state court and about 2,000 in various other state courts around the country.

Last month a jury in Chicago rejected an Illinois woman’s claim that Zantac caused her colon cancer, handing GSK and Boehringer Ingelheim a victory in the first case to go to trial.

The drugmakers notched a significant win in 2022, when another judge dismissed about 50,000 lawsuits making similar claims that had been consolidated in federal court in Florida.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Zantac heartburn pills are seen in this picture illustration taken October 1, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/Illustration/File Photo

That judge concluded that the opinions of the plaintiffs' expert witnesses that Zantac can cause cancer were not supported by sound science. Plaintiffs are appealing that ruling, which concerns different experts from those in the Delaware case.

1988 and one of the first-ever drugs to top $1 billion in annual sales. Originally marketed by a forerunner of GSK, it was later sold successively to Pfizer, Boehringer and finally to Sanofi.

Latest comments

Risk Disclosure: Trading in financial instruments and/or cryptocurrencies involves high risks including the risk of losing some, or all, of your investment amount, and may not be suitable for all investors. Prices of cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and may be affected by external factors such as financial, regulatory or political events. Trading on margin increases the financial risks.
Before deciding to trade in financial instrument or cryptocurrencies you should be fully informed of the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite, and seek professional advice where needed.
Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. The data and prices on the website are not necessarily provided by any market or exchange, but may be provided by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual price at any given market, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Fusion Media and any provider of the data contained in this website will not accept liability for any loss or damage as a result of your trading, or your reliance on the information contained within this website.
It is prohibited to use, store, reproduce, display, modify, transmit or distribute the data contained in this website without the explicit prior written permission of Fusion Media and/or the data provider. All intellectual property rights are reserved by the providers and/or the exchange providing the data contained in this website.
Fusion Media may be compensated by the advertisers that appear on the website, based on your interaction with the advertisements or advertisers.
© 2007-2024 - Fusion Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.