Setback for pharmaceutical companies in the Zantac case

A Delaware judge has ruled in favour of allowing expert witnesses to testify in a case involving the now-cancelled drug Zantac and its potential carcinogenicity.

The judge's announcement relates to more than 70,000 cases in which pharmaceutical companies have been sued by people who claim to have developed cancer after using Zantac.

The companies involved – GSK, Pfizer, Sanofi and Boehringer Ingelheim – argue that there is a lack of scientific evidence linking Zantac to cancer and have objected to the testimony of expert witnesses.

However, according to Reuters and several other media outlets, the Delaware judge has now ruled that the scientific arguments of the various parties are to be assessed by a jury.

The judge's decision will, in turn, likely be appealed by the companies.

GSK's shares fell by 9% on Monday following the announcement.

In April, Sanofi reached an agreement in principle on about 4,000 of the cases in which the company was sued in the Zantac case, as Life Science Sweden previously reported. According to Bloomberg, the settlement will result in Sanofi paying around USD 25,000 per person affected, despite the fact that the company has not admitted any liability.

Zantac, with the active ingredient ranitidine, was approved in 1983 and five years later, it was the world's best-selling drug. It was designed to reduce the production of stomach acid and was used, among other things, to treat stomach ulcers.

Initially marketed by a predecessor of GSK, it was later sold to Pfizer, Boehringer and then Sanofi.

In 2019, it was found that ranitidine can, over time and under certain conditions, convert to nitrosamines, or NDMA, a substance suspected of being carcinogenic based on animal studies.

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