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FDA Recalls Heartburn Drug Zantac Due To Cancer Risk

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a request to manufacturers to stop distributing the heartburn drug ranitidine, widely known as Zantac. Researchers discovered that the medication potentially contributes to cancer risk. 

FDA said in its letter that all prescription and over-the-counter ranitidine drugs must be removed from the market immediately. Ranitidine is used to help manage stomach acid and reduce the effects of heartburn, sour stomach and acid indigestion, Popular Science reported Monday

However, the drug contains N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). FDA said some ranitidine products produce high levels of the possible carcinogenic substance when exposed to high temperatures. 

NDMA occurs due to industrial processes like water treatment. Other commonly consumed products contain low levels of the cancer-linked substance, such as cured meats, dairy and drinking water, according to Harvard epidemiology professor Joshua Gagne. 

However, he noted that FDA only considers Zantac as potentially cancer linked. The agency needs more evidence of how the heartburn drug directly contributes to the disease.

“We make every effort to investigate potential health risks and provide our recommendations to the public based on the best available science,” Janet Woodcock, director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. “We didn’t observe unacceptable levels of NDMA in many of the samples that we tested. However, since we don’t know how or for how long the product might have been stored, we decided that it should not be available to consumers and patients unless its quality can be assured.”

While the agency awaits studies to confirm the cancer-causing effects of ranitidine drugs, people should consider taking alternative medications for their acid problems. Famotidine (Pepcid), cimetidine (Tagamet), esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid) and omeprazole (Prilosec) can be good options for heartburn struggles. 

It is important to talk to a health care provider before taking a new medication to avoid unwanted effects and to find the best alternative for ranitidine. 

“Long-term studies are needed to determine whether long-term use of ranitidine is associated with cancer occurrence in humans,” Gagne said. “Nevertheless, I would not count on ranitidine returning to shelves.”

heartache Patients with pre-existing conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, are more likely to succumb to the disease. Pixabay