Pharmaceutical giant GSK plunges 9% after US court allows scientific testimony in Zantac lawsuit

LONDON — Shares of the British pharmaceutical giant GSK fell 9% on Monday after a U.S. court ruled that scientific evidence could possibly be presented to advance a series of lawsuits related to the discontinued heartburn drug Zantac.

The Delaware state court ruled late Friday that plaintiffs' experts can testify in roughly 75,000 cases alleging that the once-popular drug ranitidine – sold within the U.S. under the brand name Zantac – could cause cancer.

“This case has always been about bringing the science before a jury,” Brent Wisner, an attorney on the Wisner Baum law firm that represents most of the plaintiffs, said in a press release.

The dispute has been simmering for years and involves quite a few pharmaceutical firms. Zantac was sold as a prescription drug by GSK within the Nineteen Eighties before becoming an over-the-counter drug. After the patent expired within the Nineteen Nineties, it was sold by firms corresponding to the French Sanofithe US company Pfizer and the German company Boehringer Ingelheim.

The drug was withdrawn European And US markets in 2019 and 2020 after regulators conducted a security review that raised concerns that it contained a probable carcinogen called NDMA.

The firms involved deny that there’s a scientific consensus that the drug may be linked to the later development of cancer.

GSK said in a press release on Friday that the corporate disagrees with the recent ruling in Delaware and can immediately appeal.

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It said the choice contradicted the federal court's December 2022 ruling within the multi-district litigation hearing that dismissed all five cancer claims. It added that the court's decision only addressed whether the methodology utilized by the plaintiffs' experts was reliable enough to be presented as evidence at trial.

“After 16 epidemiological studies examining data on ranitidine use in humans, the scientific consensus is that there is no consistent or reliable evidence that ranitidine increases the risk of cancer,” GSK said.

While nearly all of cases happen in Delaware, a smaller variety of cases are brought against various firms in California, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

Analysts at Jefferies had pointed to a possible tailwind for GSK at the tip of May after a jury within the US state of Illinois present in the primary Zantac case to go to court that GSK and Boehringer Ingelheim weren’t answerable for the colon cancer.

GSK, the corporate most affected by the cases, could face settlement costs of between one and greater than three billion dollars, in keeping with a variety of analyst reports. quoted by ^ “Reuters”.

Sanofi, which is known as in around 25,000 of the 75,000 lawsuits, expressed disappointment in its own statement on Friday in regards to the decision to not exclude the plaintiffs' experts from the lawsuits and announced that it might also appeal. Sanofi shares were 1 percent lower on Monday.

Pfizer told CNBC on Monday that the corporate was involved in “a portion” of the Delaware cases and had resolved a “significant number” of cases by which it was named as a defendant.

“While we have great sympathy for the plaintiffs in these cases, there is no reliable scientific evidence that Zantac, which has been reviewed and approved by the FDA, causes cancer. Pfizer has not sold a Zantac product for more than 15 years and has done so only for a limited period of time, nor has Pfizer ever manufactured a Zantac product,” the corporate said in a press release.

The Financial Times reported last month that Pfizer has agreed to pay between $200 million and $250 million to settle greater than 10,000 Zantac lawsuits. CNBC has not independently confirmed the quantity.

CNBC has asked Boehringer Ingelheim for comment.

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