Boost for GSK as US court rejects woman’s claims heartburn drug Zantac caused her cancer

Cleared: A jury in Chicago agreed with GSK that a woman had failed to prove her colon cancer was down to heartburn drug Zantac

British pharma giant GSK received a shot in the arm after a US jury rejected a woman’s claims its heartburn drug Zantac caused her cancer.

The jury in Chicago agreed with GSK that Angela Valadez, 89, had not proven her colon cancer was at least in part the result of her Zantac use.

It was the first trial of the issue after thousands of lawsuits were filed making similar allegations. GSK said it welcomed the verdict. It added: ‘GSK will continue to vigorously defend itself against all other claims.’

Valadez had alleged that her cancer was a result of taking over-the-counter Zantac and generic versions of it from 1995 to 2014. 

The lawsuits say its active ingredient, ranitidine, under some conditions turns into a cancer-causing substance called NDMA.

Lawyers for Valadez had asked the jury to award £500million for her suffering. Mikal Watts, one of Valadez’s attorneys, said he respected the verdict but was confident the companies would be held liable in future Zantac trials. 

‘This is a marathon, not a sprint,’ he said.

Britain-based GSK, whose predecessor developed the drug but later sold the brand to other companies, and German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim, which sold the medicine from 2006 until 2017, were the defendants in the trial.