Pharmacies across the nation are pulling Zantac and similar heartburn medications that contain ranitidine from store shelves after low levels of cancer-causing chemicals were found. The FDA is continuing to investigate ranitidine-containing drugs and they have not issued a formal recall yet. Pharmacy chains like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid have suspended the sale of Zantac and their generic versions of the medication, however, to protect consumers from exposure to the probable carcinogen N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).
FDA Issues Zantac Warning
On September 13, 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to patients and medical professionals that Zantac and various generic heartburn medications that contain ranitidine may have been contaminated with nitrosamine impurity NDMA. Results from laboratory tests indicate that NDMA is a probable human carcinogen. The environmental contaminant is sometimes found at very low levels in meats, dairy products, vegetables, and even water. When the chemical reactions used to manufacture ranitidine are not controlled, NDMA can form. Currently, the FDA is investigating the source of NDMA contamination in ranitidine products and the level of risk consumers may be facing. At this time, the FDA has not recommended that patients stop taking ranitidine-containing medications.
What Is Ranitidine?
Ranitidine is a common prescription and over-the-counter medication that is approved to treat conditions like heartburn and acid indigestion, ulcers, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. The histamine-2 blocker is known under its brand name Zantac, but a large number of generic versions exist as well. The name brand version is sold by the company Sanofi. So far, only Novartis/Sandoz and Apotex, which manufacture some of the generic versions of the drug, have recalled their products.
What Should Consumers Do if They Take Ranitidine?
Although the FDA has not currently recommended that people stop taking Zantac and other ranitidine products, the FDA states that consumers may wish to pursue other treatment options. Other over-the-counter and prescription medications are available to treat heartburn and similar conditions and people who wish to switch should speak with their doctors and pharmacists. Based on current information, there is no indication that other H-2 blockers have been affected by NDMA contamination.
Patients who notice adverse effects after taking ranitidine should report these issues to the FDA’s MedWatch program and their injury lawyers right away. When medications like ranitidine cause injuries to consumers, victims can file personal injury claims against the drug manufacturers to recover damages. Additionally, doctors who prescribe dangerous medications, companies who distribute them, and pharmacies that sell them may be able to be held liable for injuries.
Consumers who have already purchased over-the-counter Zantac and generic versions of ranitidine medications may be able to return them to their pharmacy for a refund.