WASHINGTON (KETK) – If you’re one of the millions of Americans who take a popular heartburn drug, you’ll have to look for an alternative. The company that makes Zantac announced last Wednesday that it’s halting distribution of the drug.
The FDA recently announced that ranitidine, sold over-the counter as Zantac, contains low levels of a substance that could cause cancer.
In the past year, the same chemical found in Zantac —NDMA–was discovered, in the blood pressure medication—Losartan, prompting a major recall.
The company that recently tested the heartburn drug recommended that it be recalled, and now it is being taken off the market.
At Blair Gastroenterological Associates, Dr. Ralph McKibbin says, “Things could be or should be recalled until we can determine the safety, and certainly, why can’t we just eliminate it, as it’s not in the other products in the similar category.”
Just a few days ago, the FDA recommended that people who take over-the-counter Zantac, try another medicine for heartburn or acid reflux and that those taking the prescription version talk to their doctor about other options.
Dr. McKibbin says that’s good advice, but , he added, in the long run, “Every medication has potential side effects, so you take it for the shortest time and try to fix the underlying condition and eliminate the need for medication.”
McKibbin says the amount of NDMA found in Zantac is low, but it’s important to be cautious about the potential danger.
He says the substance is found in the environment and the amount of it detected in Zantac is similar to that found in bacon, and processed meats.