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GSK hits back at ‘meritless’ claims over its heartburn drug

GSK shares rally as drugmaker hits back at ‘meritless’ cancer claims over its heartburn medication amid 3,000 personal injury cases

  • GSK has been named as a defendant in around 3,000 personal injury cases
  • Outside the US, there are ‘several class actions and in excess of 100 personal injury cases’ pending against GSK in Canada, along with a class action in Israel. 

Drug giant GSK has said it will ‘vigourously’ defend itself against all ‘meritless’ claims alleging that its heartburn treatment Zantac increases the risk of cancer.

In reponse to mounting concerns over a possible lawsuit that sent its shares tumbling by 10 per cent yesterday, GSK confirmed it had been named as a defendant in around 3,000 personal injury cases in the US.

It is also facing ‘several class actions’ outside the US, including Israel, and over 100 personal injury cases in Canada.

GSK said the litigation was ‘inconsistent with the scientific consensus’

But the group hit back saying the litigation was ‘inconsistent with the scientific consensus’.

Both the US Food & Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency have concluded there was ‘no evidence of a causal association’ between its drug and development of cancer, it added.

GSK recalled Zantac in 2019 because it had an active ingredient that had been identified as a risk factor in the development of certain cancers. 

The treatment was offered over-the-counter in the US by French drugmaker Sanofi and was originally manufactured by GSK.

The company said: ‘The overwhelming weight of the scientific evidence supports the conclusion that there is no increased cancer risk associated with the use of ranitidine. 

‘Suggestions to the contrary are therefore inconsistent with the science, and GSK will vigorously defend itself against all meritless claims alleging otherwise.’

GSK shares rallied 2.4 per cent in early trading on Friday to 1,433.8p.  

Meanwhile Haleon, which was spun off from GSK in July, said it was not a party to any of the Zantac claims and ‘not primarily liable’ for any over-the-counter or prescription claims involving Zantac.

However, it cautioned it may need to eventually compensate both GSK and Pfizer should the duo come into the legal cross-hairs.

Pfizer said it sold Zantac products between 1998 and 2006, so it had already stopped selling it by the time drug was withdrawn from the market in 2019 and 2020. 

Haleon shares, which had fallen 5 per cent yesterday, were up 0.6 per cent to 267.30p in morning trade on Friday. 

Pfizer shares closed down 3.3 per cent to $48.29 in New York. Paris-listed Sanofi shares were up 0.3 per cent to €85.

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