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Why Is Zantac A Dangerous Drug?

You or someone you know may have taken the popular acid reflux/heartburn medication Zantac (generically called ranitidine). The drug was the subject of a 2020 recall by the Food and Drug Administration because it contained a chemical that likely caused cancer in humans.

Below, we’ve included answers to some common questions about Zantac/ranitidine and the controversy surrounding it. If you have additional questions or believe that you developed cancer as a result of taking Zantac/ranitidine, please contact Pennekamp Law, P.A., to discuss your concerns and learn about your legal options.

What is the dangerous chemical found in Zantac?

Lab tests have revealed that Zantac and generic alternatives containing ranitidine contain an environmental contaminant known as N-nitroso dimethylamine, or NDMA. It has been classified as a probable human carcinogen, meaning a substance that is likely to cause cancer in humans.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, NDMA can be found in both water and foods, but the doses are small enough that they are often not a concern. In the past few years, NDMA was discovered in ranitidine products (including Zantac) and several other pharmaceutical drugs. In April 2020, the FDA released research showing that NDMA levels in ranitidine products can actually increase over time, especially when the products are stored at higher temperatures. This means that a ranitidine product that has been sitting in your medicine cabinet for a while is likely more contaminated than when you bought it.

How has the FDA responded to NDMA concerns in Zantac?

In spring 2020, the FDA contacted all drug companies that manufacture ranitidine products and asked them to stop making and selling the products. It has also warned Americans to stop taking any products containing ranitidine (including prescription and over-the-counter meds) and dispose of these products safely.

How long has Zantac/ranitidine been on the market?

The drug Zantac was first created by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in 1977. It didn’t receive FDA approval until 1983. Starting in 1984, the drug became available in generic form but still required a prescription.

In 2004, drug company Pfizer developed an over-the-counter (nonprescription) form of ranitidine. Sanofi has owned it since 2017, but OTC ranitidine products are made by more than 20 manufacturers.

How recently were the risks discovered?

The answer to this question is not yet clear. The public has only become aware of the dangers within the past couple years, but some reports suggest that manufacturers of ranitidine products may have known about the cancer risks since the 1980s. If the risks were known and not disclosed, numerous drug makers could face serious liability in Zantac/ranitidine litigation. To get more of your questions answered, read our Zantac FAQ page. Or, better yet, call us to discuss your potential case.

Get In Touch With Pennekamp Law

Pennekamp Law is based in Miami, and we serve clients throughout South Florida. We proudly offer free initial consultations to potential clients who suffered harm as the result of a dangerous consumer product like Zantac/ranitidine and other mass tort cases. To speak to one of our skilled and caring attorneys, call us at 305-860-4445 or send us an email.