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GSK settles first Zantac cancer lawsuit due for US trial


(Reuters) -GSK reached a settlement with a U.S. citizen who alleged its discontinued heartburn drug Zantac caused cancer, the British pharmaceutical giant said on Friday, preventing the first such lawsuit from going to trial.

The case, brought by California resident James Goetz in Alameda County Superior Court, was to go to trial on July 24 and would have been the first test of how Zantac cancer claims fared before a jury.

The parties reached a confidential settlement and the trial will be dismissed, GSK said.

“The settlement reflects the company’s desire to avoid distraction related to protracted litigation in this case,” GSK said, adding it did not admit any liability.

The company also said it would “continue to vigorously defend itself based on the facts and the science in all other Zantac cases”.

Originally marketed by a forerunner of GSK Plc, Zantac was later sold successively to Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim and finally Sanofi. Those companies also face lawsuits over the drug. They have all repeatedly denied Zantac can cause cancer.

Approved in 1983, Zantac was one of the first drugs to top $1 billion in annual sales.

However, in 2019, some manufacturers and pharmacies halted Zantac sales over concerns that its active ingredient ranitidine degraded over time to form a chemical called NDMA.

Found in low levels in food and water, research has shown in large amounts of NDMA cause cancer.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2020 withdrew all remaining brands of Zantac and its generic versions from the market, triggering lawsuits.

In March, a California judge denied GSK’s attempt to keep in the scheduled trial expert testimony on whether the drug is linked to cancer.

Last month, a Canadian court dismissed a proposed class action against Zantac over increased cancer risk.

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Dhanya Ann Thoppil and Barbara Lewis)

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