GSK settles another Zantac lawsuit in California By Reuters

© Reuters. A view shows GlaxoSmithKline headquarters in London, Britain, January 17, 2022.REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

(Reuters) -GSK said on Thursday it had agreed to settle another lawsuit in California that alleged its discontinued heartburn drug Zantac caused cancer, the latest in a series of settlements to end costly litigation.

The case was set to go to trial on Feb. 20 and instead, will now be dismissed, the British drugmaker said in a statement.

GSK said the terms of the settlement were confidential and that it did not admit to any liability.

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. While NDMA can be present in low levels in food and water, research has found it causes cancer in larger amounts.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2020 pulled Zantac and its generic versions off the market, triggering a wave of lawsuits.

The drug, approved over four decades ago, was the world’s best selling medicine in 1988 and one of the first drugs to top $1 billion in annual sales.

As of October, GSK still faced about 79,000 cases related to Zantac in the United States, with 73,000 of them in Delaware.

California is generally seen as a more challenging legal environment for multinational companies as courts are perceived as friendlier to plaintiffs.

Analysts have estimated total settlement costs for GSK of around $5 billion.

Shares in the firm closed up 2% on Wednesday, after the company beat market estimates for fourth-quarter results, and unveiled an upbeat forecast for 2024 and beyond on the ramp-up of its vaccines and cancer drugs pipeline.

The shares were steady in early Thursday trade.

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