On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered all pharmacies and health stores to remove Zantac from their shelves due to increasing concerns over its cancer-triggering chemicals. This is a ranitidine-containing medication used for treating ulcers and heartburn.
A voluntary recall was carried out by two firms at the beginning of the year after the agency found out NDMA or N-nitrosodimethylamine, a cancer-causing substance, in some generic heartburn drugs.
Now the FDA decided to ask for a compulsory recall and sent letters to medication manufacturers to request them to withdraw the mentioned products from the market.
The decision was made after the agency detected increasing levels of impurity in several ranitidine medications over time. When kept at higher temperatures than usual, it would increase the risk of cancer.
The FDA also advises everyone to stop taking any liquids or tablets containing ranitidine, not purchase more, and dispose of them correctly. If you want to keep treating the current health issue, it is better to buy other certified OTC drugs.
Several drug store chains stopped distributing the medications last year. Walgreens and CVS do not sell ranitidine drugs like Zantac any more. They even allowed customers to refund their recently purchased products containing ranitidine. Other OTC drugs used for treating heartburn like Tagamet and Pepcid, which do not contain ranitidine, are still being sold.
NDMA is a harmful chemical found in water and many dietary sources, such as veggies, dairy products, and meats. Exposing the body to a high level of this B2 carcinogen would increase the risk of colorectal or gastric cancer.
The substance is also very harmful to the liver. Even a small level might be associated with liver damage.
Used to be an ingredient in rocket fuel, NDMA is currently used for scientific purposes only in the United States. Also, it is a byproduct of some manufacturing industries like tire and rubber plants, pesticide manufacturing sites, and tanneries.
Since 2018, scientists also found the trace of NDMA in some drugs used for treating heart failure and blood pressure.
The FDA ordered several recalls of these drugs after a significant amount was detected in the medications Irbesartan, losartan, and valsartan.
It was estimated by the agency that if 8,000 consumers took in the highest dosage of the recalled valsartan on a daily basis for 48 months, there would be only one additional case of cancer from this group.
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