Drug companies sell out while consumers sue for billions of dollars

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Fears that US juries could blame drug companies for cancer allegedly caused by contaminants in a once-popular antacid led to one of the largest healthcare stock sell-offs in decades, with investors selling about $40 billion from Sanofi, GSK Plc and its Consumers have been pulling away from health spinoff Haleon in recent days.

He recalled that heartburn drug Zantac is the latest company to face a spate of US product liability lawsuits that could expose companies to billions of dollars in damages from jury trials.

Drugmakers like Pfizer may also be in the crosshairs of litigation, with one analyst estimating the risk for all companies at up to $45 billion.

“Claims that companies knew about the problems with Zantac and ignored them will not go down well with US juries,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond who specializes in mass tort cases.

“It potentially gets them hooked for huge punitive damages awards.”

According to Bloomberg Intelligence, 160,000 consumers have already filed claims with a US federal registry, and if just 60 percent of them follow up, the settlement value could reach between $7.5 billion and $10 billion.

In all, at least 3,700 lawsuits have already been filed between state and federal courts across the United States, and attorneys expect tens of thousands more to follow.

Class actions can be a costly and time-consuming problem.

Bayer AG, which for years has defended claims that its best-selling herbicide Roundup can cause cancer, has already committed $16 billion in settlements and legal costs related to the cases.

A group of 22 Missouri women were awarded more than $4 billion in 2018 for claiming Johnson & Johnson talcum powder caused their cancer, though the number was reduced to $2.1 billion on appeal.

The makers, a who’s who of some of the world’s largest drug companies, defended their lawsuits, saying they were based on strong legal grounds.

They questioned the scientific link to cancer, saying levels of the chemical in Zantac are close to those found in food.

It probably doesn’t calm investors’ nerves to learn that Brent Wisner, an attorney who has doggedly pursued Bayer — and has shown a knack for winning — is representing those who are suing over Zantac.

https://www.independent.ie/business/drugs-firms-selloff-as-consumers-sue-for-billions-of-dollars-41908736.html Drug companies sell out while consumers sue for billions of dollars

Fry Electronics Team

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