Zantac and other heartburn drugs recalled over possible cancer link

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Maximum Strength Zantac 150 (Photo: CBS New York / YouTube)

WASHINGTON (CBS News) — U.S. health regulators are telling drugmakers to immediately pull their popular heartburn drugs off the market after determining that a contamination issue with the medications poses a greater risk than previously thought.

The move from the Food and Drug Administration Wednesday applies to all prescription and over-the-counter versions of ranitidine, best known by the brand name Zantac. The drugs are widely used to treat stomach acid and ulcers.

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Patients should stop taking any of the medications they currently have and throw them away, the FDA said.

The agency last year said patients could continue taking the medications and did not face health risks from low levels of a “probable” cancer-causing contaminant found in multiple brands.

But officials reversed that decision, saying they’ve now determined that levels of the chemical increase over time, especially if tablets and capsules are stored at higher temperatures. That poses an unacceptable risk to patients, they said.



“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,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock in a statement.

Woodcock said there are multiple alternative medications to treat heartburn, including Prilosec, Nexium and Tagamet.

Many makers of ranitidine drugs already removed their products from the market, including Zantac-manufacturer Sanofi. Additionally several drug store chains pulled the drugs from their shelves last year.

Dozens of recalls have been linked to the same probable carcinogen since last year. The FDA is still investigating the issue and has sanctioned at least one manufacturing plant in India that makes ingredients used in the medications.

The FDA has suspended nearly all U.S. and foreign inspections due to travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

2 COMMENTS

  1. The FDA makes this step to remove Zantac after and independent lab in California, Emery Labs, claim Zantac had more cancer causing ability than earlier thought. Again, Zantac is this highest selling antacid there is. I wonder what competition drug gave this “independent” lab a sizeable kick back to make this claim? If you don’t think that happens then your head is stuck in the sand. Wake up!

  2. Zantac is the best antacid drug out there. Shame on the FDA for taking it away. It has no side effects like pepcid ac and others and at one time was the highest selling drug on the market. I think that has more to so with the recall than rats getting cancer from the tests as no tests on humans have been done. We are NOT rats! Give me back my Zantac. Not one confirmed human fatality from this drug. Post it if there is. I dare you!

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