Recent recalls of popular antacids, such as Zantac and its generic version, ranitidine, as well as another drug, nizatidine, have left many patients suffering from heartburn with a loss of what to do.
While these drugs are no longer available at pharmacies, they may still be in your medicine cabinet. Our Pasco County Zantac Lawsuit Attorneys at Whittel & Melton want you to be informed on what to do.
Here is what has been recalled and why:
Companies that make the antacids ranitidine and nizatidine (brand name: Axid) have voluntarily recalled more than a dozen lots of unexpired medications in 150 mg and 300 mg strengths. Exact lot numbers of the recalled drugs can be found on the FDA’s website.
The FDA said the medicines may contain “unacceptable” amounts of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a substance the World Health Organization has classified as a “probable human carcinogen.”
Valisure, an online pharmacy that analyzes every batch of medications it receives, first discovered the elevated NDMA levels in samples of ranitidine.
Due to the molecular makeup of ranitidine, when it is exposed to heat, it breaks down and forms NDMA. It can breakdown in as little as 15 minutes and form NDMA, according to researchers. In theory, ranitidine could develop the toxin while in hot delivery vehicles, or even stored in steamy bathrooms.
Should you be concerned?
None of the recalled lots has been associated with any illnesses or injuries. FDA testing of recalled ranitidine detected NDMA levels similar to the amounts found in grilled and smoked meats. Doctors have reported that the link between NDMA and the development of cancer is still misunderstood by many, but patients should discuss this with their physicians.
Are there alternatives to the recalled medications?
Due to the fact that so many people rely on Zantac for heartburn relief, there are similar drugs on the market that could help. Sales of over-the-counter and prescription ranitidine topped $221 million in 2018 alone, according to the pharmaceutical research firm IQVIA.
Other heartburn medications, such as famotidine (Pepcid), cimetidine (Tagamet), esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid) and omeprazole (Prilosec) have not tested positive for signs of NDMA.
Heartburn drugs work to reduce stomach acid, but lifestyle changes can help, too. Losing a few pounds, even as little as two to three BMI points, can significantly improve symptoms, quitting smoking, and cutting back on dietary fat can also help.
The condition that usually causes severe cases of heartburn is called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. It occurs when the valve that separates the esophagus and the stomach opens when it’s not supposed to. When that happens, the contents of your stomach, which naturally contains a lot of acid, travels into the esophagus.
Because GERD is essentially a valve problem, nighttime heartburn patients can slightly elevate the head of their bed, and sleep on their left side for relief. When you lay on your left side, the faulty valve is positioned in a way that separates it from food and acid, which means less stomach acid will back up into the esophagus.
What if your heartburn will not go away?
Occasional heartburn is common, especially after big meals, and usually is not serious. But sometimes, that burning sensation can indicate something more serious, such as ulcers, bleeding or an inflammation of the lining of the esophagus.
Gastroenterologists recommend contacting your doctor’s office if your heartburn won’t go away after two weeks, you’re having trouble swallowing, or your heartburn is causing nausea and vomiting.
Zantac Cancer Lawsuits
The first Zantac lawsuit filed against the drugmaker Sanofi was filed in California on the same day the FDA published its safety warning. Since then, there have been other suits. Plaintiffs say that the drugmaker had an obligation to know about the potential for contamination and to advise the medical community of the danger.
Anyone who regularly used Zantac for an extended period of time and has since been diagnosed with cancer can file a claim. Any Zantac users that have suffered acute damage to their liver can also file suit. The following cancers are known to be caused by NDMA exposure:
- Stomach Cancer
- Bladder Cancer
- Liver Cancer
- Kidney Cancer
- Testicular Cancer
- Uterine Cancer
- Small Intestine Cancer
- Colorectal Cancer
- Esophageal Cancer