Pfizer is Offering up to $250 Million to Settle Thousands of Zantac Cancer Lawsuits - Latest Global News

Pfizer is Offering up to $250 Million to Settle Thousands of Zantac Cancer Lawsuits

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Pfizer has agreed to pay up to $250 million to settle more than 10,000 U.S. lawsuits over cancer risks related to its now-discontinued heartburn drug Zantac, people familiar with the deal say.

The settlement — announced last week in a Delaware lawsuit — aims to significantly reduce Pfizer’s potential liability. The New York-based drugmaker was expected to pay plaintiffs between $200 million and $250 million to settle the cases, two people briefed on the deal said.

More than 70,000 lawsuits have been filed in Delaware state court against a variety of drug manufacturers, while there are fewer cases in California, Illinois, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

A settlement is a way to reassure investors and avoid potentially lengthy and costly litigation. In 2022, companies linked to the drug lost a total of $40 billion in value in a matter of days, as an analyst note published by Morgan Stanley estimated potential liabilities of up to $45 billion.

While the threat of liability has now been revised downwards, the prospect of expensive payouts continued to weigh on company share prices.

The exact settlement amount has not yet been determined because it will be calculated per plaintiff and will depend in part on data collected by law firms about the years of use of people who took Zantac.

Pfizer, which sold Zantac between 1998 and 2006, said it continues to “vigorously defend itself against Zantac lawsuits that we believe are not supported by reliable science.” It added that it has “reviewed and may continue to review, as appropriate, opportunistic settlements of certain cases and settlements of certain cases.” Thousands of other plaintiffs have yet to settle with Pfizer.

“The Company is confident that its Zantac products have been tested and approved by the [US Food and Drug Administration]did not cause cancer when used as directed,” Pfizer added.

Separately, French drugmaker Sanofi settled 4,000 cases for an undisclosed amount in March 2024, settling all cases against it outside of Delaware.

Boehringer Ingelheim and GSK also defend thousands of cases in state courts. Both drugmakers declined to comment.

A small lab in Connecticut first detected “extremely high levels” of NDMA, a probable human carcinogen, in 2019 when it heated ranitidine, the active ingredient in Zantac. This caused the companies to stop selling.

But companies facing parallel litigation in federal courts got a boost when a judge in Florida rejected the findings of scientists on behalf of plaintiffs, leading to the dismissal of thousands of lawsuits filed there, but litigation in state courts continues. A Delaware state court judge is expected to rule soon on whether to allow plaintiffs’ scientific evidence linking the drug to cancer.

GSK, which first received approval for Zantac in 1983 and has been hit hardest by the litigation, has already settled a handful of cases in California courts. It is disputed that the drug caused cancer. A jury trial is currently underway in Illinois against GSK and Boehringer Ingelheim over Zantac.

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