Zantac Lawsuit Settlement Reached Before Upcoming California Trial

Although GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to several Zantac settlements payouts in recent months, the drug maker indicates that it plans to continue defending against cancer lawsuits being pursued by former users of Zantac.

Shortly before a jury trial was set to begin in California state court later this month, GlaxoSmithKline has announced it reached a Zantac lawsuit settlement to resolve claims brought by a former user of of their recalled heartburn drug diagnosed with cancer.

In a press release issued this week, the drug manufacturer indicates it has settled a lawsuit filed by David Browne, which was scheduled for a California state court jury trial to begin on February 20. However, terms of the settlement are confidential.

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.

String of California Zantac Settlements in Recent Months

Browne’s claim is the latest of several Zantac lawsuits GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to settle confidentially in California in recent months.

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 it still plans to defend itself in other state court claims.

“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.”

Even though the results of the trials would have had no binding impact on other Zantac cancer lawsuits pending nationwide, the trials 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.

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