Zantac belongs to a small group of drugs called histamine-2 blockers. It does its job by reducing the amount of acid that your stomach would normally produce. It seems like a simple concept and an easy fix for heartburn, but not anymore.
According to health.harvard.edu, on April 1, 2020, the FDA requested that manufacturers withdraw all prescription and over-the-counter ranitidine drugs (Zantac) from the market immediately.
After further research, it was discovered that carcinogens (environmental contaminants) were found in the Zantac drug itself. At first, they realized that there were low levels of NDMA present in this medicine that is used by millions of Americans for many years.
After further research, the FDA also came to find that the levels of NDMA (N-Nitrosodimethylmine) can increase over time if it is stored in higher than room temperatures. This is when it becomes dangerous, as the number of carcinogens can climb to unacceptable levels, which in turn can cause some people to develop life-threatening issues, including cancer and other health problems.
The Environmental Protection Agency EPA) and World Health Organization (WHO) have all stated that they classify NDMA as a cancer-causing substance. So how did this carcinogen make its way into this household over-the-counter drug? That is the question millions of Americans are asking.
According to a NYT article published on November 28, 1988, “Zantac in that day and age was the single largest-selling prescription drug ever.” said Ernest Mario, the chairman and chief executive officer of Glaxo Inc.
That just goes to show how long this problem and these carcinogens went undetected. Was it a problem that was ignored by the FDA? Was this something they could have been predicted and stopped before it hurt anyone? There are so many questions that go unanswered.
Someone must be held accountable for this concealing of carcinogens in an over-the-counter medicine. As consumers, we trust that the medicine put on the market is safe for us to ingest and put into our bodies. This is no longer about money—people’s lives are at stake.