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Ranitidine, Zantac, and How They Became Synonymous with Cancer

— July 24, 2020

None of us know what awaits ranitidine manufacturers, and whether or not they can alter the chemical make-up of their medication in order to remove the carcinogen risk.

Zantac began its troubles in September of last year, with a chemical called NDMA.

N-Nitrosodimethylamine, better known by its acronym – NDMA, is a highly toxic organic compound that, in specific quantities, has the potential to become carcinogenic. It is found most commonly in drinking water, and in low quantities in products such as curated meats, tobacco, and beer. 

Most importantly, the greatest risk it poses is its potential and gradual toxification of ranitidine, an over-the-counter histamine medication, quite often associated with its main trade name, Zantac. Through time, but especially when it is exposed to storage-space heat that surpasses room-temperature levels, the quantity of NDMA that forms in ranitidine medication becomes toxic to the human body.

While it might reduce the quantity of stomach acid your body produces, directly treating a variety of ulcers or other related illnesses such as GERD, ranitidine is just not a realistically safe medical recommendation anymore. The high quantities of NDMA found in ranitidine medication have been proven to cause an increase in the development of various types of cancer, with stomach cancer being the most common occurrence in individuals who had undertaken a long-term ranitidine treatment. 

What has changed, from a medical point of view?

Following this medical discovery in September 2019, a large number of nations have taken a firm stance against ranitidine medication throughout the succeeding time-period. Most recently, the EU has issued a precautionary ban on all types of ranitidine medication as of the 30th of April 2020 at the strong recommendation of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP). 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) initially issued a voluntary recall of the histamine medication, allowing US retailers to the freedom to choose whether or not they want to take ranitidine medication, such as Zantac, or its many store-brand variations, off of their shelves. Following the 1st of April 2020, the recalling of ranitidine became mandatory, and as such, Zantac and all of its competitors are now indefinitely unavailable to US citizens. This has resulted in a nation-wide shortage of what was previously a very easy to acquire over-the-counter medication, and the FDA’s decision has consequently sparked a significantly controversial reaction from the majority of affected US citizens, with mixed opinions surrounding the subject in the digital and journalistic environment. 

What safe medical alternatives are there to ranitidine?

With the convenience of just going to your local pharmacy or supermarket and acquiring a decently priced box of Zantac now an impossibility, many individuals who suffer from heartburn and stomach acid-related issues are now worried and confused about their available options. As such, a number of ranitidine alternatives have been recommended by the FDA as a reaction to the sudden shortage of ranitidine-based products. 

The main medical alternative, Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs), are the FDA’s official recommendation, and they serve to replace, or even improve, the role that ranitidine filled in the human body’s treatment of gastro-intestinal acidity, by using a set of enzymes that irreversibly block the over-secretion of harmful acids into the stomach. The easily accessible brands that house these drug-classes are Nexium, Prevacid, and Prilosec.

Furthermore, individuals still have the option to take similar medication to ranitidine, in the form of other H2 Histamine Receptor Antagonists that have no connection to carcinogen NDMA contamination. The two available options, Famotidine and Cimetidine activate in a similar manner to the way ranitidine did – by outrightly blocking the histamine of the stomach lining cells from producing acid into the stomach of an affected person.

Regardless of the main differences between the two classes of alternative medication, none of the aforementioned drugs should be taken without having first received legitimate medical advice from your local physician or from a gastroenterologist. Only a specialist will be able to highlight the exact number of possible side effects, as well as their level of severity, that these substances can create inside your body, and even if you do not run the risk of carcinogen exposure, medication should always be considered only upon proper due-diligence being done on all the outcomes your treatment could have on your body and general physical well-being.

The Attack on Zantac: Why Pharmacies are Pulling this Product
The Attack on Zantac: Why Pharmacies are Pulling this Product. Photo by VanveenJF on

What are my legal options if I suffer from cancer because of previous NDMA over-exposure?

While it is important for us to be looking forward in the battle against carcinogen NDMA contamination, so as to make sure that the people who require this vital treatment are given the necessary resources in order to continue living an un-affected lifestyle, we equally have to consider the people who, before awareness was raised on this serious issue, were unwittingly introducing carcinogenic compounds into their system, and who have now come to suffer from an incredibly grave illness through absolutely no fault of their own.

Therefore, who empathizes with the precarious situation they have been placed in, and who can resolve the injustice they suffered? More people than one might realize, in fact. Especially attorneys who have dedicated their years of study and experience to the field of personal injury law, which is exactly what ranitidine cancer classifies as.

From a legal standpoint, you deserve justice for being a collateral victim in the Zantac-Ranitidine situation. Thankfully, there are lawyers specialized in cases of ranitidine-resulted cancer, and who would be more than inclined to help you. If you, or a loved one you know, has suffered or is suffering from cancer caused by NDMA exposure through ranitidine medication, and you can prove the connection between the ranitidine intake and the development of carcinogen symptoms post-treatment, you are entitled to receive a number of financial and moral compensations from any ranitidine manufacturer that made false claims regarding the safety of their product. It is your right, as both a customer of the company who has injured you, as well as a citizen of the US, to be compensated for the life-threatening damages you have suffered.

Conclusion… or is it?

This time last year, through no fault of our own, none of us were aware of the potentially negative impact ranitidine could have on our long-term physical well-being. And yet history had warned us before. Studies dating back to the 1980s show that ranitidine’s potential of producing dangerously high levels of NDMA was a topic of interest even then, and yet it took modern medicine roughly 30 years to reach a decisive conclusion about a type of medication that we all took for granted as being safe and convenient.

None of us know what awaits ranitidine manufacturers, and whether or not they can alter the chemical make-up of their medication in order to remove the carcinogen risk, but what we do know now, is that safety and health should never be overshadowed by convenience and ease of access to any given drug.

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