Another California Zantac Lawsuit Settlement Reached Before Trial

Second time in the last month GlaxoSmithKline has reached a Zantac settlement agreement just before a case was set to go before a jury, privately resolving claims that the recalled heartburn drug caused cancer

GlaxoSmithKline has announced that it has reached a Zantac lawsuit settlement agreement, resolving a complaint that the recalled heartburn drug caused cancer just a month before it was expected to go to trial in California state court.

The drug manufacturer issued a press release on February 29, indicating the company had agreed to a confidential settlement in a Zantac cancer lawsuit, which will result in dismissal of the claims without evidence being presented in a public trial.

Zantac (ranitidine) was used by millions of Americans for treatment of heartburn and acid reflux, before it was removed from the market in late 2019, following the discovery that the active pharmaceutical ingredient is inherently unstable and produces high levels of the chemical byproduct N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which is a potent human carcinogen.

Despite the settlement, GlaxoSmithKline, Boehringer Ingelheim Pfizer, Sanofi and various other manufacturers, distributors, and retailers, continue to fight nearly 80,000 Zantac lawsuits in various state courts nationwide, with most filed in Delaware. The claims were brought by former users who indicate they have been diagnosed with bladder cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer and other injuries after taking brand name Zantac or one of its generic equivalents.

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Side effects of Zantac may increase the risk of cancer, due to chemical impurities found in the heartburn drug.

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For several years, most of the litigation was focused in the federal court system, where all Zantac cancer lawsuits were centralized before Judge Robin L. Rosenberg in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings. However, in 2022 Judge Rosenberg issued a controversial ruling, determining that all of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses were excluded from testifying at trial under federal evidentiary rules.

While appeals have been filed to challenge Judge Rosenberg’s ruling, the decision has left federal plaintiffs without any means of proving the recalled Zantac pills caused their cancer, and all Zantac lawsuits pending in the federal court system have been dismissed. However, the federal ruling did not have any impact on lawsuits filed in California, Delaware and various other state courts, where different standards for the admissibility of expert witness testimony apply.

GlaxoSmithKline Continues Zantac Injury Settlements

This latest Zantac lawsuit settlement was reached before the case was scheduled to go to trial on April 2, and it marks at least the second time in the last four weeks that GlaxoSmithKline confidentially resolved a claim just before evidence was expected to be introduced at trial about when the manufacturer knew or should have nknown about the Zantac cancer risk.

In early February, the company announced another settlement agreement, resolving a complaint filed by David Browne before it was scheduled to go to trial on February 20. The terms of that agreement were also confidential.

“The settlement reflects the Company’s desire to avoid the distraction related to protracted litigation in this case,” the company’s press release states. “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.”

The statement is nearly identical to the one released by GlaxoSmithKline when Browne’s Zantac settlement agreement was announced.

In November, GlaxoSmithKline reached a Zantac settlement agreement that resolved the first lawsuit scheduled to go to trial in California state court, along with three other claims in California that were slated for bellwether trials. However, the company claimed at that time that it still planed to defend itself in other state court claims.

Even though the results of the trials would have had no binding impact on other Zantac cancer lawsuits pending nationwide, they were going to be closely watched to see how the jury would have responded to evidence and testimony which could be repeated in tens of thousands of trials nationwide, and may have greatly increased the average Zantac settlement amount GlaxoSmithKline would have to pay to resolve future claims.

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