What is Zantac?

Zantac is a popular OTC (over-the-counter) drug that is taken to relieve and prevent heartburn. It is also used to treat indigestion, acid reflux, and a variety of other health issues associated with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), and it can be prescribed by a physician to treat any of these disorders.

In early 2020, the FDA issued a recall on Zantac due to the fact that its active ingredient ranitidine may be linked to the development of certain cancers, including stomach, colon, and bladder cancers.

Ranitidine Explained

Prior to April 2020, the main ingredient in Zantac (and some other antacids) was ranitidine, which is an H2 blocker (histamine-2 antagonist). The purpose of H2 blockers in antacids is to prevent certain cells in the stomach from producing acid. It was soon discovered that ranitidine contained a chemical known as N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which is a known human carcinogen, or a cancer-causing agent. Because NDMA is a naturally-occurring chemical, it can be found in trace amounts in food and water, but it was found in large (and harmful) amounts in ranitidine.

As early as 2019, drugstores began pulling Zantac from their shelves because of the research that came about from NDMA and ranitidine. While Zantac users were developing stomach, bladder, and colon cancers more often than those who weren’t using Zantac, ranitidine was also linked to the development of kidney, thyroid, breast, and testicular cancers as well.

Zantac 360: The New Version

Last year, Zantac made its return to shelves under a new name ‘Zantac 360’. This new version of the antacid contains a different active ingredient (famotidine) that relieves all of the symptoms of heartburn, indigestion, and GERD. Famotidine currently has not been linked to the development of certain cancers the way the previous active ingredient, ranitidine, has. It has no trace of NDMA in it, so we can conclude that it is a safer alternative to ranitidine and that it is not a known human carcinogen.

Both ranitidine and famotidine have been on the market for a while as the active ingredient in popular antacids (no medication contains both), and prior to the recall, both were equally effective in treating acid reflux, heartburn, and other gastrointestinal issues. Therefore, Zantac 360 (famotidine) is what’s currently on shelves now and is safe to take, while the original Zantac (ranitidine) is no longer available on shelves due to the recall.

What To Do if You’ve Taken the Original Zantac

If you have taken the original Zantac (ranitidine) and you were diagnosed with bladder, breast, colon, kidney, stomach, testicular, thyroid, or any other cancer you may believe is the result of taking Zantac, contact a personal injury lawyer. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers suggests that individuals who have not been diagnosed with cancer, but have taken Zantac or any other ranitidine products consult their doctors if they’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Headaches, dizziness, or changes in vision
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Urination problems

Expiration dates for some medications go as far as two years into the future, so it’s possible that some individuals may still have the original Zantac (ranitidine) in their cupboards. If you have the original Zantac in your medicine cabinet, throw it out immediately and consult your doctor about any concerns you may have.

Because ranitidine is a known carcinogen that can cause a variety of different cancers, general signs of cancer include:

  • Extreme tiredness that can’t be cured with rest
  • Extreme weight loss or gain with no apparent reason
  • Swelling/lumps in the body
  • New unexplained pain that does not go away
  • Changes in bowel or bladder habits
  • Lingering cough/hoarseness
  • Feeling full quickly when eating
  • Fever/night sweats

Keep in mind that these are just generalized symptoms of cancer, and can be caused by something else. Always consult with your doctor if you have any concerns.

It is perfectly safe to take the new version of Zantac, Zantac 360 (famotidine) if you’re experiencing gastrointestinal problems, because this version does not include the H2 blocker ranitidine. Remember to take all medications as directed by the directions on the label, or as directed by your doctor. Always take FDA medication recalls seriously, even if you’ve taken Zantac prior to 2020 and have not developed any type of cancer, and consult your doctor if you have any health concerns whether they relate to an FDA recall or not.

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