Four plaintiffs who filed Zantac lawsuits against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) reached a settlement with the pharmaceutical company, which faces nearly 80,000 cases alleging that the former manufacturer of the popular heartburn drug caused their cancer because the active ingredient and generic name of the drug, ranitidine, becomes carcinogenic under certain conditions. 

The confidential settlement, announced Oct. 11, averts a trial due to begin in November in California. This is not the first time a Zantac case slated for a bellwether trial in California has been settled. The case of plaintiff James Goetz was scheduled for July 24 in a California court and would have been the first Zantac lawsuit to go to trial. It was also settled under confidential terms a few weeks before the start of the trial. 

According to Reuters, GSK is expected to settle all ranitidine claims for $5 billion sometime in the first quarter of next year. 

All products containing ranitidine were pulled from the marketplace by the FDA in April 2020, following independent laboratory testing by Valisure and subsequent follow-up testing by the FDA which showed that the longer ranitidine was stored at temperatures above room temperature, the more likely the active ingredient could produce high levels of the compound N-nitrosodimethylamine or NDMA, which is a known cancer-causing agent, according to several research studies such as a 2021 paper published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine

Approximately 2,450 Zantac cases consolidated in a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) were dismissed in December 2022 by the judge overseeing the MDL, ruling that the scientific evidence presented by plaintiff expert witnesses was insufficient. The ruling did not affect Zantac lawsuits filed in state courts. Of the 79,000 Zantac cases GSK faces, roughly 73,000 have been filed in Delaware courts, which, according to Forbes, is a less challenging jurisdiction for plaintiffs than California. 

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