Pfizer moves to settle more than 10,000 Zantac cases in state courts: Bloomberg

Following the lead of French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, Pfizer has agreed to settle more than 10,000 personal-injury claims from users of heartburn drug Zantac, resolving litigation in several U.S. state courts, according to Bloomberg, citing anonymous sources.

The terms of the deals weren't available to Bloomberg, the news service said. Last month, when Sanofi settled approximately 4,000 Zantac cases in the U.S., it paid $100 million—or roughly $25,000 per plaintiff—Bloomberg reported at the time.

In an emailed statement, Pfizer did not confirm nor deny the report.

“Pfizer continues to vigorously defend against Zantac lawsuits, which we believe are not supported by reliable science," a spokesperson said. "As we have stated previously, Pfizer has explored and will continue to explore opportunistic settlements of certain cases if appropriate and has settled certain cases,” the company said.

Other companies facing Zantac litigation include GSK and Boehringer Ingelheim. GSK gained approval for Zantac (ranitidine) in 1983 and lost its patent protection for the treatment in 1997.

Pfizer had rights to sell the antacid from 1998 to 2006. In a statement two years ago, Pfizer said it had “substantial indemnification claims against others which have been acknowledged by several manufacturers in their disclosures.” As a result, the company said, “the outcome of the litigation is not likely to be material to Pfizer.”

In 2020, the FDA instructed all companies to take Zantac off the market after it confirmed that the medicine’s main ingredient can transform into a possible carcinogen over time or when exposed to high temperatures. Zantac has since returned to the market with a new formulation that does not include ranitidine.

Over the last year, GSK has hammered out settlements with individual plaintiffs in California, resolving cases before they could go to court. With a longer history with Zantac, GSK faces more claims than the other companies, with Reuters reporting 79,000 outstanding cases in October of last year.

Last week in Chicago, the first trial involving a Zantac user kicked off, with Angela Valadez, 89, claiming she developed colorectal cancer after using the antacid. Her case is against GSK and Boehringer.

Companies facing federal litigation, including Pfizer, gained a huge win in 2022 when a Florida district judge rejected the science backing the claims that Zantac can cause cancer. The ruling freed the drugmakers from defending against approximately 50,000 cases that had been consolidated in the Florida federal court.

Throughout the ordeal, the companies have maintained that Zantac can’t cause cancer.

“The company is confident that its Zantac products, which were reviewed and approved by the FDA, did not cause cancer when used as directed,” Pfizer said May 8.