Ever since the end of 2019, Zantac has been in the news pretty frequently. First for warnings, then voluntary recalls, than an offical Zantac recall by the FDA, and now because of a growing multi-district litigation in Florida on behalf of hundreds of victims who took the drug and were later diagnosed with cancer. But what is Zantac and who uses it?
Zantac is the brand name of a very popular heartburn medication called ranitidine, which millions of people have been using since the 1980s. Zantac (ranitidine) is a type of drug known as an H2 blocker, or H2 antagonist, which decreases stomach acid by blocking histamine receptors in the stomach. For years, it has been used to treat and prevent ulcers in the stomach and intestines, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and other related conditions in which acid backs up from the stomach into the esophagus, causing heartburn.
On April 1, 2020 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested that all Zantac and ranitidine products be removed from shelves across the country. This request includes prescription and over-the-counter forms of the drug. This means that Zantac and its generic forms will no longer be available for use in the United States, and the FDA strongly recommends that people already taking Zantac or generic forms of the antacid should immediately stop and switch to other heartburn medications that do not contain ranitidine.
Zantac (ranitidine) contains extremely high levels of a chemical called N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which is known to cause cancer. NDMA exposure has been linked to several cancers, including, but not limited to the following:
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