GSK (GSK.L) agreed to settle a U.S. lawsuit alleging its discontinued heartburn drug Zantac caused cancer, the British drugmaker said on Friday, preventing the first such case from going to trial next month.
The company said it had reached a confidential deal with California resident James Goetz who alleged he developed bladder cancer from taking the drug. The trial was due to start on July 24, and would have been the first test of how Zantac cancer claims would fare before a jury.
The deal could set a precedent for thousands of cases set to go to trial next year. The drugmaker’s (GSK.L) shares rose nearly 5%, making it the best performer on London’s blue-chip FTSE 100 (.FTSE).
The company still faces more than 5,000 similar lawsuits in California and close to 73,000 in Delaware. No trials are currently scheduled.
“It was this headline risk with a trial date right around the corner that was keeping investors on the sidelines in GSK,” Barclays analyst Emily Field wrote in a note.
GSK said the settlement reflected its desire to avoid distraction related to protracted litigation. It did not admit any liability and said it would vigorously defend itself in any other Zantac cases.
Lawyers for Goetz said in a joint statement that they were pleased the company “agreed to settle and finally bring closure to Mr. Goetz.”
Originally marketed by a forerunner of GSK, the drug was later sold by several companies, including Pfizer (PFE.N), Boehringer Ingelheim and Sanofi (SASY.PA), as well as generic drugmakers.
Companies facing litigation scored a victory in December, when a federal judge threw out tens of thousands of Zantac cases in U.S. federal courts after finding that science did not back the opinions of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses linking the drug to cancer.