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Plaintiff in first Zantac lawsuit set for trial drops case


(Reuters) — The plaintiff in the first lawsuit over the heartburn drug Zantac scheduled to go to trial has agreed to drop his case, according to his attorney and drugmakers named as defendants.

Tuesday's news came days after shares of GlaxoSmithKline PLC,  Sanofi SA, Pfizer Inc. and Haleon PLC were hit by mounting investor concern about thousands of lawsuits claiming the drug, which U.S. regulators pulled from the market in 2020, causes cancer. 

The first trial in one of those lawsuits had been scheduled to begin Monday in Illinois state court. The plaintiff, Joseph Bayer, alleged he developed esophageal cancer from taking over-the-counter Zantac.

Alexandra Walsh, an attorney for Bayer, said her client could not proceed for “personal health reasons” but had the right to refile his case within a year.

Zantac, originally marketed by a forerunner of GSK, has been sold by several companies at different times, including Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim and Sanofi as well as a plethora of generic drugmakers.

Haleon, spun out as an independent company last month, comprises consumer health assets once owned by GSK and Pfizer.

GSK and Boehringer Ingelheim said they had not paid anything in exchange for the voluntary dismissal of the Bayer case.

Separately on Tuesday, Bloomberg reported a handful of generic companies including Teva, Perrigo, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories agreed to settle with Mr. Bayer for a total of more than $500,000 before the case was set to go to trial, citing people familiar with the deal.