Despite the U.S Food and Drug Administration issuing a recall order for Zantac earlier this year, the Zantac lawsuit remains active and continues to gather more cases to be filed as of this writing. The many people who have used the heartburn medication even before the recent recall are the reasons behind the growing number of plaintiffs.
What is Zantac?
Zantac, also known as ranitidine, is a widely-prescribed drug that is a part of the histamine-2 (H2) blockers family, which is a group of medications whose main purpose is to decrease the amount of acid produced in the system. Therefore, it can aid in preventing or treating gastrointestinal problems like GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and ulcers in the stomach and intestines.
Aside from those, Zantac can also treat health problems which play a factor in acid production rate, and other complications linked to high acid levels and heartburn.
Zantac is the popular choice among doctors to treat such health issues in their patients. A 2019 statistics indicated that doctors write a whopping 15 million Zantac prescriptions each year, excluding the over-the-counter products that patients continue to purchase.
Why did FDA Recall Zantac?
On April 16, 2020, the FDA alerted both health care experts and patients, as well as manufacturers in the U.S. to voluntarily recall the Zantac oral solution, citing its potentially unsafe NDMA (N-nitrosodimethylamine) levels as the reason behind the order.
As an act of cooperation, companies recalled their Zantac in order to conduct further testing and study its NDMA levels. The acceptable daily intake is not more than 96 nanograms of NDMA. The FDA used the testing samples to publish their results and they encouraged other manufacturers to do the same.
What’s the Deal with NDMA Levels?
Unsafe NDMA levels can cause cancer. We often encounter NDMA when we eat some foods and take some drinks that are packed with this contaminant, but just like many things in life, having too much of it can do more harm than good to us.
Too much exposure to NDMA can cause a wide array of problems like esophageal, colon, stomach, pancreatic, and prostate cancer. In other cases, it can also lead to leukemia or non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
But that does not mean consuming small amounts of it cannot do harm to a person. Constant exposure to NDMA can also have drastic effects on the bladder, intestines, stomach flora, bladder, and prostate. With this, the EPA has classified NDMA as a B2 carcinogen.
Although more studies and research is still necessary to fully know what other harms this carcinogen can bring, plenty of studies in animals show that the substance can be potentially dangerous. It can make the development of tumors in the blood vessels, liver and respiratory tract possible.
When consumed on a safe level, it is not bound to affect someone in life-threatening ways. But since Zantac contains more NDMA than what is only recommended for daily intake, this means it poses big health risks.
Alternative Drugs to Zantac
Consult with your doctor first if you’re having thoughts of stopping your Zantac medication, as they can suggest the best alternative to the drug. These alternatives of course would have to be medications with the exact same purpose of helping with gastrointestinal problems. Some of the most practical alternatives to Zantac include:
- Nexium (esomeprazole) – helps relieve stomach pain and treat ulcers. The effects can last longer than similar antacids and can only be taken once a day.
- Pepcid (famotidine) – a fast-acting drug that can manage heartburn, preferred by users because of its low risk of side effects.
- Prevacid (lansoprazole) – an acid reducer used to treat heartburn and ulcers, known for tis affordable price
- Prilosec (omeprazole) – controls the release of stomach acid and helps with heartburn through its long-lasting relief.
It is important not to self-medicate and change your medications on your own. Some products will have different reactions with other drugs, which can interrupt your treatment. It’s always best to take combinations of drugs recommended by your doctor, especially if you have more serious existing conditions like heart problems, metabolic disorders, and more.
NCBI: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
WebMD: Heartburn Drugs and Cancer: What Are the Risks?
FDA: FDA Updates and Press Announcements on NDMA in Zantac (ranitidine)
FDA: Laboratory Tests – Ranitidine
GoldenbergLaw: NDMA: What is it and why should I be concerned
Iodine: Zantac alternatives