Chicago/ Health & Lifestyle
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Published on May 23, 2024
Jury Clears GSK and Boehringer Ingelheim in Chicago Zantac Cancer Case as Pfizer Settles Thousands of ClaimsSource: Editor182, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In the ongoing saga of the Zantac litigation battles, a Cook County jury has delivered a verdict that the heartburn medication was not responsible for an elderly Brookfield woman's colon cancer. After a three-week trial, the jury, composed of nine women and three men, found that while Angela Valadez, the 89-year-old plaintiff, took Zantac for nearly 20 years, pharmaceutical companies GSK and Boehringer Ingelheim were not liable for her illness. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Valadez's lawyers argued that the drug's active ingredient, ranitidine, could degrade into NDMA, a substance known to cause cancer. However, the defense attributed her cancer to a variety of other health factors and her failure to get a colonoscopy earlier.

Meanwhile, Pfizer Inc. has opted to take a different route with its legal strategy, settling more than 10,000 cases that accused the company of concealing Zantac’s cancer risks. The financial details were not disclosed, but the news, as per individuals familiar with the matter, will likely ease concerned investors, who witnessed how Zantac scares previously hammered the company's market value, along with those of other drugmakers. Pfizer's shares dipped slightly by 1.5% before U.S. markets opened Thursday, according to a report by Bloomberg Law.

Despite the Cook County ruling, more Zantac-related trials are set to take place in the same jurisdiction, with dates laid out for June, July, September, and November. Valadez's attorney, Mikal Watts, remained optimistic. "There's going to be a lot of juries that look at the facts and we are confident that future juries will agree that GSK, Boehringer Ingelheim, and other purveyors of the drug have caused a lot of damage to different members of the American public. But it's a case-by-case evaluation, so this is just one step in a long process," Watts stated, as cited by the Chicago Sun-Times.

The contrasting strategies seen in the Zantac litigation landscape underscore the complex nature of pharmaceutical liability. While GSK defends its product in court, Pfizer's approach shows a willingness to negotiate solutions outside of the courtroom. This comes on the heels of Sanofi similarly settling about 4,000 Zantac cases for a reported sum exceeding $100 million as per a Bloomberg Law article. Despite the settlements, over 70,000 Zantac lawsuits are still pending, particularly in Delaware, where legal decisions regarding the admissibility of scientific evidence are poised to shape the future course of the litigation.