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Zantac FDA Recall: Do I Have Cancer?

The FDA office where they recently announced a Zantac recall due to a probable carcinogen

Pharmacies Forced To Remove Over The Counter and Prescription Zantac and Generic Ranitidine Products

 

After months of discussion, the FDA has now announced an urgent request: that all Zantac manufacturers pull their medicine from all pharmacies and online marketplaces, including: CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart. The FDA had previously called for a voluntary recall, which many pharmacies like Publix pharmacy have agreed to out of patient protection measures. However, the FDA have now announced the results of further testing, and made the admission that keeping patients on Zantac could put them at risk of developing cancer.

Am I At Risk For Cancer?

15 Million Americans are prescribed Zantac every year, with millions more purchasing it over the counter. A previous study published by the FDA for a different drug with the same carcinogen, NDMA, estimated that at high doses over a long period of usage, 1 out of 8000 patients may develop cancer. As of now, the full extent of which cancers Zantac may cause is unknown, but previous Zantac users claim to have developed, after consistently medicating with Zantac:

  • Mouth Cancer
  • Throat Cancer
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Liver Cancer
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Stomach Cancer
  • Gastrointestinal Cancer
  • Small Intestine Cancer
  • Large Intestine Cancer
  • Esophageal Cancer

Since this is such a novel announcement from the FDA, the scope of cancers potentially caused is unknown. It is recommended to follow up with your Doctor if you feel you have symptoms of an unknown diagnosis.

What Is NDMA, The Carcinogen Zantac Is Said To Contain?

NDMA is an environmental contaminant sometimes found in everyday things like water and vegetables. Though seemingly harmless, NDMA is currently classified as a possible carcinogen. Some of us may develop cancer upon ingestion, and some may not. NDMA can only cause cancer after high doses over a long exposure time. This leaves patients who use Zantac, or Ranitidine, as part of their long term care at risk of NDMA’s serious carcinogenic risk. As such, it is recommended that anyone who feels they have symptoms of a greater problem after consistent usage of Zantac contact their Primary Care Doctor for more information.

What Does The FDA’s Decision On Zantac Mean For Me?

The FDA has concluded that Ranitidine, the molecule which is the basis of Zantac, is inherently unstable, and can degrade under environmental conditions like:

  • High Temperatures: The bottle being in a hot car, or hot garage, or a hot truck transporting to your pharmacy
  • Significant Age: An older product- maybe you bought in bulk at Costco- or a longer time since manufacturing

The worse the condition, the greater the presence of NDMA. The FDA is unwilling to leave patients at risk any longer, and has advised Over The Counter patients to stop taking Zantac, or pharmacy-brand Ranitidine, including that found at CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart. The FDA suggests disposing of the pills, though, if you are considering legal action, it is important to keep your pill bottles, receipts, and prescriptions. For those taking Zantac under a Doctor’s prescription, the FDA recommends to continue taking the medicine until you have discussed alternatives with your Doctor.

  Related: Where Did Zantac Go? Does Zantac Cause Cancer?

References

  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2020. FDA Requests Removal Of All Ranitidine Products (Zantac) From The Market. [online] Available at: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-requests-removal-all-ranitidine-products-zantac-market [Accessed 1 April 2020].
  2. Nytimes.com. 2020. U.S. FDA Moves To Remove All Versions Of Heartburn Drug Zantac From Market. [online] Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2020/04/01/us/01reuters-fda-heartburn-zantac.html [Accessed 1 April 2020].
  3. Joshua Gagne, S., 2020. Popular Heartburn Drug Ranitidine Recalled: What You Need To Know And Do - Harvard Health Blog. [online] Harvard Health Blog. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/popular-heartburn-drug-ranitidine-recalled-what-you-need-to-know-and-do-2019092817911 [Accessed 1 April 2020].
  4. Joshua Gagne, S., 2020. Ranitidine (Zantac) Recall Expanded, Many Questions Remain - Harvard Health Blog. [online] Harvard Health Blog. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/ranitidine-zantac-recall-expanded-many-questions-remain-2019101018044 [Accessed 1 April 2020].
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