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In April 2020, about 15 million consumers of the drug Zantac learned the news nobody ever wants to hear: the medication they have been using to relieve heartburn has been recalled due to safety concerns. Medications containing ranitidine, Zantac’s cancer-causing ingredient, were found to contain low levels of a contaminant and carcinogen called N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). Both the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified NDMA as an environmental contaminant and possible human carcinogen.
There are many reasons why people suffer from heartburn, but spicy foods or big meals before bedtime aren’t the only culprits. Contaminated food or water, wearing your belt too tightly, a hiatal hernia, and ibuprofen can all cause heartburn. Even second-hand smoke can lead to heartburn because of the tobacco’s effect on muscles in the body.
Some people say that their heartburn symptoms seemed similar to a heart attack because of the feeling it left them in their chest and that they were surprised to find the feeling was the result of stomach acids. Zantac offered relief to sufferers, but it was also used to treat:
NDMA is present in water, dairy products, meats, and vegetables. But in these extremely low amounts, they do not cause cancer or have any other deleterious effects on people. The concern is in regards to increased consumption through medication. The saturation of NDMA in ranitidine rises in spaces that are only a little warmer than room temperature. And it increases over time, so the levels of NDMA in each package can vary based on how long it’s been on the shelf or in a consumer’s cabinet. These findings were first reported by an independent laboratory in fall 2019.
Because the FDA cannot assure the quality of the drugs, they recalled them. The FDA has also said that they will continue their efforts to prevent impurities from being present in drugs at unacceptable levels.
If you have been using Zantac to treat any of the conditions mentioned earlier, then you will want to stop taking them and dispose of the remaining tablets or liquid properly. While previously a consumer would have had to return the drug to a take-back location, due to the COVID-19 pandemic consumers are being asked to dispose of the drug at home by following the instructions in the package insert or medication guide.
Next, you should speak to your doctor or healthcare provider about other treatment options. While only a healthcare professional should advise you on what to take, the following medications work similarly to Zantac but do not contain NDMA:
Again, speak with your doctor about which one is right for you.
Finally, you may want to consider speaking to a lawyer if you have developed any symptoms or cancers since taking Zantac. There are a variety of illnesses associated with NDMA use such as:
The right team of personal injury attorneys can help you join a class-action lawsuit or seek your own legal action against a producer, distributor, or prescriber of Zantac.
Michael Davis is the Content Director of Miami’s On the Map Marketing, Inc. As the chief content editor of one of the fastest-growing internet marketing firms in the country, Michael has made it his mission is to provide high-level, factual, and error-free content that emphasizes the best SEO practices and helps his company’s clients convert sales. When he’s not editing SEO content for On the Map, Michael writes his own industry-specific content for various publications.