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In a setback to GSK, a California judge ruled that a consumer cleared a key legal hurdle and can proceed with a lawsuit claiming the Zantac heartburn drug was linked to cancer, a decision that suggests the company may face lengthy and expensive litigation.

The ruling stands in contrast to a decision issued last December by a U.S. federal judge in Florida, who was overseeing a separate batch of lawsuits and determined that claims the medicine can cause several different types of cancer were not backed by sound scientific evidence. The judge also strongly disagreed with the analyses offered by experts and dismissed the lawsuits.


In California, though, Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo ruled that expert witnesses offered by the consumer, who claimed he contracted bladder cancer after taking Zantac, will be allowed to testify. In explaining his reasoning, Grillo pointed to a widely cited court case that expanded the scope of what state trial courts may permit when considering expert opinions.

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