New Study Confirms Cancer Risk Associated With Heartburn Remedy, Zantac

Drugs

On January 29, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study on its open network, which demonstrates the clear connection between ranitidine (Zantac) and the carcinogenic contaminant, NDMA, which is used in rocket fuel and administered to laboratory rats to accelerate cancer in research studies.

In the study, just one Zantac pill was found to create more than 6000 times the safe level the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established for NDMA. NDMA builds up in the body after the ranitidine molecule breaks down in the stomach, where the carcinogenic compound is released. This is why stomach cancer is one of the many cancers associated with Zantac.

The co-authors of the study are affiliated with the New York-based Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the New Haven, CT-based online pharmacy, Valisure. 

On April 1, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration recalled all ranitidine products from the marketplace. FDA first became aware of NDMA contamination in summer of 2019,  after independent lab testing revealed the contaminant in ranitidine (Zantac is the brand name).  

However, the recall wasn’t issued by FDA at the time because the levels of NDMA detected were relatively low, on par with non-cancerous levels in food and water. Further testing by both FDA and third-party labs demonstrated that NDMA levels increase in ranitidine products over time,  even under normal storage conditions, and especially when ranitidine samples were stored at higher temperatures. 

An FDA press release issued to announce the recall last year says that these higher temperatures include the distribution of the product and handling by consumers. Also, the older a ranitidine product is, the greater the level of NDMA, which puts the consumer at a higher risk of developing cancer. 

NDMA causes DNA fragmentation, which causes healthy cells to become cancerous.

Research demonstrating the link between ranitidine and cancer is not new. According to St. Petersburg Injury Law News, Valisure’s CEO David Light, said that the latest study supports the online pharmacy’s previous “decades of research [showing] that ranitidine is fundamentally unstable, can form NDMA in a variety of conditions including in the human body and could be carcinogenic and toxic to humans.”

In addition to stomach cancer, NDMA has been linked to several types of cancers, including gastric, pancreatic, bladder, and colo-rectal, as well as tumors in the lung, kidneys, and liver. 

St. Petersburg Injury Law News adds that contaminated ranitidine consumers may also experience side effects such as: abdominal cramps, dizziness, fever, headaches, jaundice, nausea and vomiting, irregular heartbeat, rapid heartbeat, hair loss and skin rashes, nervous-system disorders and vitamin-B12 deficiencies.

Considering that the recall of Zantac occurred less than a year ago, it’s likely that thousands of claims will be filed. A multi-district litigation was established for Zantac in February 2020, involving over 500 lawsuits. Thus far, no Zantac lawsuits have been tried, and therefore, no settlement has been announced. Not only are claimants suing ranitidine manufacturers (such as Sanofi) over the presence of the contaminant, they are also accusing the drug makers of knowing about the contaminant for decades, yet continually concealing this fact from patients, doctors and regulators.

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