In another turn in the high-profile Zantac litigation, Sanofi and Pfizer agreed to settle a case set for trial in California.
Bloomberg first reported the news of the settlement, which comes after a U.S. District Judge ruled against the plaintiffs in the federal group of cases against the companies and others. Earlier this month, that ruling took out about 50,000 Zantac claims off the board.
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As for the California settlement, that lawsuit came in California Superior Court for Alameda County, Bloomberg reports. The financial terms of the agreement were not revealed, the news service said. Goetz also sued GSK, and that jury will start hearing evidence in February.
A Sanofi spokesperson told Fierce Pharma over email that the company settled the case “not because it believes these claims have any merit, but rather to avoid the expense and distraction of a trial in California.”
Goetz’s case was to be the first in a series of four Zantac lawsuits scheduled for trial next year, with the remaining cases expected to go before juries on May 1, 2023, August 7, 2023 and October 23, 2023.
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These trials will be closely watched by parties involved in the litigation, and may provide a “bellwether” to help gauge how juries will respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the remaining state court cases.
If plaintiffs can establish that they can succeed with their claims before juries, it will increase pressure on the drug makers to negotiate Zantac settlements, including potential resolutions for claims that are pending on appeal and may later be reinstated and returned back to the trial court if the MDL judge’s controversial decision to exclude plaintiffs’ expert testimony is reversed.
The Zantac brand has faced litigation in several aspects after a testing laboratory, Valisure, filed a citizen petition in 2019 calling for the recall of all ranitidine products due to high levels of NDMA that can cause cancer.
Since the requested recall of Zantac in 2020 by the FDA, some legal cases have been dismissed, but GSK still has several more cases to contend with.