GSK avoids trial with another Zantac settlement in California

For the second time in four weeks, GSK has settled a personal injury lawsuit in California state court over the heartburn drug Zantac (ranitidine). The company revealed the dismissal of the case and the agreement in a release Thursday.

“The settlement reflects the company’s desire to avoid the distraction related to protracted litigation in this case,” according to the statement. “GSK does not admit any liability in this settlement and will continue to vigorously defend itself based on the facts and the science in all other Zantac cases.”

Terms of the settlement were not released for the case, which was set to go to trial April 2.

Earlier this month, GSK reached a confidential settlement in another Zantac suit in California, filed by David Browne, which was scheduled for a Feb. 20 trial.

Since 2019, GSK and other companies that manufactured and marketed the blockbuster treatment have faced litigation from users who claim Zantac’s active ingredient ranitidine can transform over time into a cancer-causing agent called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).

Scrutiny began that year when an online pharmacy found high levels of NDMA in Zantac and generic versions of the drug. After recalls, the FDA ordered Zantac and its generics to be taken off the market. It was originally approved in 1983.

This year's pair of settlements follows several other deals by GSK in Zantac cases over the last eight months in California. The first came in June of last year, when GSK settled with plaintiff James Goetz in a case that was set to go to a jury trial and serve as a potential bellwether for thousands of other cases in the state. In October, GSK revealed that it had resolved four more cases in the state.

While the deals represent some progress for GSK in the sprawling litigation, the company still faced around 79,000 lawsuits in the U.S. as of October, Reuters reports. Analysts have estimated that it will cost the company around $5 billion to resolve its portion of the litigation, according to the news service.

In its annual report, released a month ago, GSK said the company’s “aggregate provision” for legal and other disputes was 0.3 billion pounds sterling ($380 million). It also said California’s remaining bellwether cases are set “for transfer to other counties for trial” beginning in the second quarter of this year. Cases in other state courts are set to go to trial in the second quarter as well, GSK added.

“Given the current stage of the proceedings, GSK cannot meaningfully assess what liability, if any, it may have, nor can it meaningfully assess the liability of other parties under relevant indemnification provisions,” the company wrote.