An investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found that the heartburn drug Zantac and some generic versions of the drug are contaminated with a chemical that may cause cancer. Several national pharmacy chains have pulled Zantac and generic ranitidine from their shelves over concerns that patients who use these medications may face an increased cancer risk.
Zantac and ranitidine are part of a class of drugs known as H2 receptor blockers. These medications are used to treat patients with conditions caused by the excess production of stomach acid, including gastritis, peptic ulcers, acid reflux, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). At one time, Zantac was the highest selling prescription drug in the United States. It is now mainly sold in generic and over-the-counter versions.
In 2018, the FDA discovered that the blood pressure drug valsartan and similar medications known as Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs) were contaminated with a form of the chemical nitrosamine known as N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). NDMA was originally used to manufacture rocket fuel. Laboratory tests performed on animals have demonstrated that the chemical is “probably carcinogenic” to humans.
Carcinogenic Chemical Found in Zantac and Ranitidine
After issuing dozens of recalls for ARB medications that were contaminated with NDMA, the FDA began testing other generic and prescription drug to determine if they were also contaminated. In September 2019, tests by the FDA revealed that Zantac and some other medications containing ranitidine were also contaminated with NDMA.
Additional tests revealed that in conditions similar to the human stomach, Zantac and ranitidine generated about 300,000 nanograms of NDMA, which is far above the level that the FDA considers acceptably safe. Researchers who conducted the testing said that even if these drugs were not contaminated with NDMA, it was likely that the chemical would form in the stomach after patients took the pills.
Following the FDA’s announcement, Sandoz, the manufacturer of Zantac, announced that it was recalling the drug over concerns that NDMA contamination could increase the risk of cancer for patients. Shortly thereafter, two other manufacturers generic ranitidine, Apotex and Novartis, also announced that there would recall the heartburn drug.
After manufacturers of Zantac and ranitidine announced that they were recalling these drugs, several national pharmacy chains followed suit. So far, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid have all announced that they would be pulling the heartburn medications from shelves until the contamination issues were resolved by manufacturers and the FDA.
FDA officials cautioned that not all generic versions of ranitidine are contaminated with NDMA. The agency has advised patients who are taking the drug and are concerned about potential contamination to speak with their doctor about alternative reflux treatments before discontinuing the medication.
Find Out If You Qualify to Take Legal Action
If you or a loved one used Zantac or ranitidine to treat acid reflux or other gastrointestinal diseases and were diagnosed with cancer, you may be eligible to take legal action. The first step in determining if you may qualify to file a claim is to contact an experienced pharmaceutical liability attorney to find out more about your legal rights.
The lawyers at Hissey, Mulderig & Friend have filed thousands of lawsuits on behalf of patients and their families who were harmed by the side effects of dangerous drugs, defective medical devices, or other hazardous products. At Hissey, Mulderig & Friend, our attorneys believe that all individuals who were hurt by dangerous or defective consumer products should have the right to qualified legal counsel to ensure that their legal rights are protected.
For more information about filing a Zantac or ranitidine lawsuit, contact the lawyers at Hissey, Mulderig & Friend for your free legal consultation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-866-806-8117, or by completing our free case evaluation form located on the right side of this page.