A judge in Delaware denied an application by GSK and other pharmaceutical companies to appeal a decision that upheld the validity of more than 70,000 lawsuits alleging that the heartburn medication Zantac was responsible for triggering the growth of cancer.

The decision, handed down by Judge Vivian Medinilla of the Delaware Superior Court, indicates that pharmaceutical firms, which also include Sanofi and Boehringer Ingelheim, would be required to submit a direct request to the Delaware Supreme Court to be granted permission to appeal. GSK has said that it has already sent its appeal to the court in question.

Trial proceedings for the Zantac lawsuits will move forward if the high court decides not to accept the appeal.

“Judge Medinilla resoundingly rejected GSK, Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer, and Sanofi’s attempt to end-run around the jury system in Delaware,” remarked Jennifer Moore, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

If the state supreme court decides not to hear the appeal, it will make it possible for the Zantac lawsuits to proceed to trial.

According to a statement released by GSK, the scientific community maintains that there is no conclusive, trustworthy evidence that ranitidine raises the risk of any type of cancer. Ranitidine is the active component of the drug that has since been discontinued.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requested in 2020 that manufacturers remove the medicine from the market due to worries that ranitidine might deteriorate into a chemical known as NDMA, which is known to cause cancer, over time or when exposed to heat. This prompted a rising number of lawsuits.

According to the drugmakers, Medinilla should have prevented the plaintiffs from providing credible testimony that Zantac may lead to cancer. This is what a federal judge did in 2022 concerning around 50,000 claims consolidated in Florida.

Industry groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, expressed their support for the appeal of the drugmakers in paperwork submitted last month. The filing stated that allowing Medinilla’s ruling to stand had resulted in a relaxation of the criteria for evidence in the state that is traditionally favorable to business and had the potential to transform it into a hub of product liability litigation.

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