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GSK asks to appeal Delaware ruling allowing Zantac cases to go forward

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Recasts headline, paragraphs 1-4 with appeal petition

By Brendan Pierson

June 10 (Reuters) - GSK GSK.L and other drugmakers on Monday asked a Delaware court for permission to appeal a ruling allowing more than 70,000 lawsuits claiming that heartburn drug Zantac causes cancer to go forward.

If Judge Vivian Medinilla of Delaware Superior Court grants the petition , which is also joined by Pfizer PFE.N, Sanofi SASY.PA and Boehringer Ingelheim, the appeal will go directly to the Delaware Supreme Court. If she denies it, GSK said, the companies will ask the Supreme Court directly to hear the case.

The companies, which all sold Zantac at different times, argue that Medinilla should have granted their motion to block plaintiffs from presenting expert testimony that Zantac causes cancer. That would have effectively ended all of the lawsuits in Delaware, where the vast majority of Zantac lawsuits nationwide are pending.

Also on Monday, GSK announced that a womanwho alleged that she developed breast cancer as a result of taking Zantac dropped her case shortly before it was set for trial.

GSK said in a statement that it did not settle with the woman, Eugenia Kasza. A lawyer for Kasza did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kasza's case would have been the second over Zantac to go to trial, after the first ended last month with a victory for GSK and Boehringer Ingelheim. Another case was dismissed by a judge shortly before a trial was set to begin on May 23.

Sanofi has settled about 4,000 Zantac cases, and the Financial Times reported last month that Pfizer had settled more than 10,000 cases.

First approved in 1983, Zantac became the world's best-selling medicine in 1988 and one of the first to top $1 billion in annual sales. It was originally marketed by a forerunner of GSK and later sold successively to other companies.

In 2019, some manufacturers and pharmacies halted Zantac sales after a chemical called NDMA, which is known to cause cancer, was detected in some pills. Some tests showed that Zantac's active ingredient, ranitidine, could degrade into NDMA over time or when exposed to heat.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration asked manufacturers to pull the drug off the market in 2020. In the face of mounting lawsuits, the drugmakers have maintained that there is no evidence Zantac exposed users to harmful levels of NDMA.

The companies notched a significant win in 2022, when another judge rejected about 50,000 lawsuits making similar claims that had been consolidated in federal court in Florida. Some plaintiffs are appealing that ruling.

Reporting vy Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi, Bill Berkrot and Leslie Adler)


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