Health Concern: What You Need to Know About the 2020 Zantac Recall

Category: Zantac

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What is Zantac?

Zantac is a popular OTC (over-the-counter) drug that is taken to relieve and prevent heartburn. It is also used to treat indigestion, acid reflux, and a variety of other health issues associated with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), and it can be prescribed by a physician to treat any of these disorders.

In early 2020, the FDA issued a recall on Zantac due to the fact that its active ingredient ranitidine may be linked to the development of certain cancers, including stomach, colon, and bladder cancers.

Ranitidine Explained

Prior to April 2020, the main ingredient in Zantac (and some other antacids) was ranitidine, which is an H2 blocker (histamine-2 antagonist). The purpose of H2 blockers in antacids is to prevent certain cells in the stomach from producing acid. It was soon discovered that ranitidine contained a chemical known as N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which is a known human carcinogen, or a cancer-causing agent. Because NDMA is a naturally-occurring chemical, it can be found in trace amounts in food and water, but it was found in large (and harmful) amounts in ranitidine.

As early as 2019, drugstores began pulling Zantac from their shelves because of the research that came about from NDMA and ranitidine. While Zantac users were developing stomach, bladder, and colon cancers more often than those who weren’t using Zantac, ranitidine was also linked to the development of kidney, thyroid, breast, and testicular cancers as well.

Zantac 360: The New Version

Last year, Zantac made its return to shelves under a new name ‘Zantac 360’. This new version of the antacid contains a different active ingredient (famotidine) that relieves all of the symptoms of heartburn, indigestion, and GERD. Famotidine currently has not been linked to the development of certain cancers the way the previous active ingredient, ranitidine, has. It has no trace of NDMA in it, so we can conclude that it is a safer alternative to ranitidine and that it is not a known human carcinogen.

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