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Pfizer Settles More Than 10,000 Cancer Lawsuits in Bid to Reduce Potential Liability

As almost everyone knows, the manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines are immune from lawsuits until later this year.

In February of 2020, then-Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar invoked the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, or PREP, which allows HHS to provide protection to vaccine manufacturers unless there’s “willful misconduct,” according to CNBC. That protection, invoked as the vaccines were undergoing emergency use authorization, sunsets in October of this year, according to BioSpace — but even then, lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers will be difficult.

“Even when this immunity goes away, the vaccine manufacturers are largely immune anyway, in the sense that there’s this very complicated administrative proceeding and process that somebody has to go through first before they can ever sue a vaccine manufacturer,” said legal expert Omar Ochoa, who talked to BioSpace about the possibility that lawsuits might go forward after the PREP Act protections sunset Oct. 1.

In a completely unrelated note, Pfizer just settled over 10,000 cases in a class-action suit that alleged it hid the cancer risks of a major drug for up to $250 million, according to a report in the Financial Times earlier this month.

The suit has to do with the drug Zantac, an antacid with the active ingredient ranitidine.

Multiple drugmakers, including GSK and Sanofi, have held the U.S. patent since it became a prescription drug in 1983 and an over-the-counter treatment in 1996, according to Bloomberg.

Pfizer sold the drug between 1998 and 2006. Sanofi eventually recalled the drug in 2019 after a lab showed it released a likely carcinogen called NDMA if it was subjected to higher temperatures or left untaken over longer periods of time.

The announcement was found in what Bloomberg said was a “telltale filing” on April 29 as GSK defends itself in the first jury trial over what they knew about the drug and its potential for carcinogenic activity.


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