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Several big drugmakers — Sanofi, GSK, Pfizer and Boehringer Ingelheim — will not have to face thousands of lawsuits claiming the Zantac heartburn drug can cause cancer after a federal judge decided consumers’ claims were not backed by sound scientific evidence.

In a 341-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Robin Rosenberg concluded that the consumer lawsuits relied on flawed science and were therefore unable to show legitimate links between the widely used medicine and several different cancers, including liver, bladder, and stomach cancer.


The lawsuits argued that the companies knew the active ingredient in the drug, which is called ranitidine, degraded and transformed into a potential carcinogen known as NDMA under certain conditions. NDMA is an organic chemical that is part of a carcinogenic group of compounds called N-nitrosamines, and studies have shown it increases the risk of cancer in humans and animals.

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