Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled Zantac and other ranitidine heartburn medicines. The FDA recalled ranitidine products containing a chemical called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). The agency took this action because NDMA, a known carcinogen, apparently increases to dangerous levels over time and at higher temperatures.
As an alternative to ranitidine products, the FDA suggests the following over-the-counter heartburn medicine:
- Famotidine (brand name Pepcid)
- Cimetidine (sold as Tagamet)
- Esomeprazole (brand name Nexium)
- Lansoprazole (sold as Prevacid)
- Omeprazole (brand name Prilosec)
There is no NDMA in these products, according to the FDA. The FDA suggests these products as what you should take instead of ranitidine.
How Ranitidine Alternatives Work
Heartburn medications help reduce the amount of stomach acid that causes heartburn.
There are three categories of heartburn medications:
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPI)
Uses of Antacids, PPI, and H2 Heartburn Medications
Antacids are for mild, occasional heartburn. They are sold over the counter and include Tums and Rolaids.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPI) are sold in both over the counter and by prescription. In addition to treating regular or more severe heartburn, PPI medicines like Nexium and Prevacid are prescribed for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stomach and small intestine ulcers, and esophageal inflammation.
H2 blockers like Pepcid AC and Tagamet reduce the amount of acid in your stomach, providing heartburn relief.
Why Ranitidine Medications Were Recalled
Ranitidine contains NDMA in prescription and over-the-counter versions. Because it is a known carcinogen, the FDA only permits a tiny dose of NDMA per daily use. A pharmaceutical startup company began testing ranitidine products and discovered excessive amounts of NDMA in its samples.
NDMA is known to increase the risk of certain types of cancer. In fact, the primary purpose for NDMA was to induce cancerous tumors in lab animals to test cancer treatments.
At first, the FDA asked ranitidine manufacturers to voluntarily recall the drug. By April of 2020, the agency issued a total recall of ranitidine products.
Why NDMA in Ranitidine Is Potentially Life-Threatening
There seems to be a link between the amount of NDMA in ranitidine and an increased risk for certain types of cancer, including:
- Liver cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Lung cancer
- Kidney cancer
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that even short-term exposure to NDMA is harmful to people. NDMA may increase the risk of developing liver failure, jaundice, and hepatitis.
Additional Health Risks of Ranitidine Drugs
Regular users of ranitidine may be more at risk for cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
There are other serious side effects and consequences of using ranitidine, including:
- Nervous system disorders
- Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat; either too fast or too slow)
- Vitamin B-12 deficiency
- Higher risk of pneumonia
- Deficiencies blood platelets
- Skin irritations
- Balding or hair loss
These side effects and an increased risk of cancer are why you should take something else instead of ranitidine.
What Is Heartburn
Heartburn, or acid indigestion, occurs when undigested food and acids from your stomach flows back up your esophagus. You might have a sour or acidic taste in the back of your mouth, along with pain and discomfort in your upper abdomen.
According to the Mayo Clinic, common risk factors or triggers for heartburn include:
- Being overweight
- Fried foods
- Spicy foods
- Citrus fruit
- Tomatoes and food containing tomatoes (like ketchup)
- Coffee and other caffeinated drinks
- Soda and carbonated beverages
While occasional heartburn is not necessarily the sign of a more serious medical condition, sometimes people confuse heartburn with heart attack symptoms. The Mayo Clinic advises that when in doubt, get medical care.
Why People Are Filing Ranitidine Lawsuits
Ranitidine products are not new to the marketplace. Some were manufactured and sold as early as the 1980s, according to the FDA. That is why many former ranitidine consumers find it difficult to accept that manufacturers did not know that these drugs could be hazardous.
To date, 141 lawsuits have been filed against several manufacturers, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The plaintiffs in these lawsuits are seeking compensatory damages for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other related losses.
Who Might File a Ranitidine Lawsuit
You could be entitled to damages if you:
- Used Zantac or another ranitidine drug, whether prescribed or over the counter
- Have an official diagnosis of bladder, liver, stomach, or another form of cancer by a healthcare professional
You are encouraged to call the Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to learn more about potential compensation. Please call (800) 794-0444 for a free case evaluation with a member of our team.