Talk about stress-related heartburn! The makers of the mega-popular antacid drug called Zantac are now facing potential lawsuits that could total into the billions as the anti-ulcer drug comes into question.
Today’s blog isn’t about whether or not the drug works. It definitely works in terms of reducing stomach acid. It belongs to the category of acid reflux drugs called “H2 antagonists” which stands for Histamine-2 Receptor Antagonist.
And there are many popular brands available in this drug category, among them, the very popular Pepcid made by Pfizer which is still available for purchase.
H2 Antagonists such as Zantac are stomach acid blockers. They’re extraordinarily popular, among the most consumed drugs in the entire world. They were pitched to make us feel better, to protect us from our own natural production of stomach acid! What a shocker to now sees what’s happening. You better have a seat.
There’s no question that Zantac does its job and brought soothing comfort to the tummies of people who were in distress. That’s why in 2019 alone, over 13 million prescriptions were written for it! The year before in 2018, almost 19 million prescriptions were written for it! Remember, this drug is also sold as an OTC medication (over-the-counter). Think about that, the number of brand and generic pills of this agent, consumed by people, is absolutely mind-boggling!
So if Zantac worked so well, and was so incredibly popular, what’s the problem?
It’s a good question. I bow my head as I type this… we put our trust in pharma, we put our trust in prescribers, we watch TV commercials and as a nation, “we want that.”. A pill is so much easier than figuring out the food triggers for heartburn. And then there’s social proof! The drug had a following. Pharmaceutical companies sold them like hotcakes!
Billions of prescriptions were handed out from the time it was FDA approved (in 1983, the year I graduated high school) to the time it was officially (and immediately) pulled off the market in September 2020.
Answer: Potential contamination with NDMA (N-Nitrosodimethylamine).
The alleged lawsuits against the makers of Zantac state that negligence among pharma companies producing the drug led to serious harm in patients, specifically cancer. You can visit DRUGWATCH to see if you can file a claim, and this site works for both prescription and OTC claims.
And here it is… innocent people trying to heal an ulcer, or reduce acid reflux might end up with worse! It’s the third most horrific medication debacle I’ve seen in my career of 30 years!
I can’t mention the first one, but the second one was the Vioxx debacle in 2004 and now there’s this catastrophe! We are talking epic! It’s so bad because so many years passed, and so many people took the drug, and moving forward millions more could hear the scary “C” word when they leave their doctor’s offices! The problems haven’t stopped because the medication was withdrawn.
And IMHO, I don’t think the NDMA scandal stops with Zantac! There were whispers about the drug category of ARBs (these are drugs like losartan, valsartan, and irbesartan), an extremely popular class of anti-hypertensives! The FDA even issued a WARNING.
Is it True that Zantac Causes Cancer?
I can’t say if this drug produces cancer. It’s not that I don’t know, it’s that I can’t say. Who wants to get in the middle of this major litigation? Not me! But this is the claim in all the lawsuits.
The FDA must think so because they issued a swift and complete removal of the drug off shelves back in 2020. And here’s one LINK and another LINK where you can learn more about the actual recall on the FDA website.
If you follow me, then you already knew all this, I warned my audience as soon as I found out, in this article, Popular Heartburn Medication Zantac May Contain NMDA.
You’ll also find a lot of attorneys advertising their services to people. I did a quick Google search and found a lot of sites saying the same thing, “If you or a loved one took Zantac for 12 months or more and have been diagnosed with cancer, you may qualify for compensation. By filing or joining a mass tort claim regarding the use of Zantac, you may be able to get compensation for your injuries.”
The drug companies that are involved are experiencing their own version of heartburn right about now. Stock prices have been wobbling like a dinghy in a hurricane, but finally stabilized a little bit on Friday morning (August 12, 2022). If you have stock and want to learn more, or are worried that it’s going to tank, please read this article entitled, Pharma Stock Investors Brace for Billions in Heartburn Drug Litigation Charges.
They face settlements that will likely rank into the billions! And it doesn’t help them that the Food & Drug Administration has confirmed the contamination of NDMA in these pills.
They came out and determined with 100% certainty that Zantac (ranitidine) was contaminated with NDMA (N-Nitrosodimethylamine).
We already knew that NDMA was likely a carcinogen, which is an agent that causes cancer. They found that levels of NDMA increased over time and were above acceptable levels.
How does NDMA Get Into Medications?
It’s fairly straightforward. NDMA is spawned during the manufacturing process. No one is doing it to the Zantac! It’s just happening by virtue of normal, regular, clean production of the pill. The NDMA is introduced during the tableting process from contaminated ingredients that were sourced elsewhere… or from the use of solvents and agents used in the manufacturing process.
It just happens, and it happens all the time.
And this may come as a shock, but it’s totally allowed and legit to have NDMA in a drug according to the FDA! There is a “permissible” amount of 96 nanograms per day. So you can be consuming NDMA, and never know it, and never be told if the amount of the toxin is only 50, or say 95 nanograms. That’s considered okay to ingest, and on a daily basis. People who consumed Zantac, allegedly ingested more than the “permissible” amount, hence the lawsuits now.
Actually, the alarm will sound if and only if, the specific threshold of 96 nanograms is crossed, and somebody finds too much in there! Let’s be real, the makers don’t know there’s too much in there unless somebody tests for NDMA (like a 3rd party, not the makers themselves) and then is bold enough to release the information, or even an email to the powers-that-be that says something like, “Uh oh, there’s too much junk in here!” You can read more about NDMA in these two articles:
Understanding and Preventing (N-Nitrosodimethylamine) NDMA Contamination of Medications
N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) contamination of ranitidine products: A review of recent findings
What Kind of Cancer Do They Think Zantac Causes?
It’s hard to say for sure, and I wouldn’t say “Zantac Cancer” as you see on all these other media outlets. It’s coming from the NDMA! The NDMA contamination is in many drugs, probably most drugs, but to permissible levels. So when you think of cancer being caused by something, it’s coming from the contaminant. I just want to be technically correct. NDMA may increase the risk, or potentially cause any of the following cancers, and some not listed here:
What to Do if You’ve Taken Zantac?
Millions and millions of people have been taking acid reflux drugs for years, and are not wondering what to do if they took Zantac or something similar that contains NDMA. (There are many other drugs that are supposedly contaminated with NDMA – it’s not just Zantac!)
Anyway, if you are in this category, I would say not to panic.
1. Get a physical
2. Do bloodwork to start, like a “Chem Panel” and a CBC. Depending on where your symptoms are, and what your medical history is, your physician will offer insight into other tests and/or imaging scans of your body.
3. Stop taking the medication if you can and switch to a therapeutic equivalent, or a natural remedy. Ask your doctor about all this.
4. Change your diet, or go on one. Altering your diet will be the most important thing you do to improve the reflux situation. It cust the dragon’s head off! Dairy is a big trigger… consider cleaner diets such as the Paleo or Carnivore diet, or Keto, or something that works for you, whatever works for you is fine by me!
5. Do not ignore. Please do not let any symptoms you are experiencing get swept under the rug due to your heavy workload, family needs, or whatever! Also, don’t take the “wait and see” approach. Wait and see what? If you develop cancer? No! Be more proactive than that and think two steps ahead and don’t wait and see anything.
H2 Antagonists are Big Drug Muggers of Every Nutrient
Let’s veer from the whole cancer NDMA situation. I want to tell you something else that is equally important. Drugs in this category and others like the Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) deplete the body of every nutrient pretty much! Think of omeprazole, esomeprazole, etc.
They rob you of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. They’re what I call “drug muggers” and they deplete the body of life-giving nutrients simply by the way they work. Worse than just a nutrient depletion is the fact that blood doesn’t coagulate properly, pain increases, mood dips, cytokines run amock, heart function is impacted… when your body is deficient in life-sustaining nutrients (via the drug nutrient depletion effect, or what I’ve termed “the drug mugging effect”) then bad things can happen. Case in point, read this article I wrote, Suppressing Acid 24/7 Raises Risk of Stroke.
Acid blockers hurt the human body because they do just that, they block acid. It’s not Elon Musk rocket science, it’s much simpler than that! Their mechanism of action is to raise the pH in the gut from very acidic, to alkaline. When you mess with stomach pH, your body can no longer absorb essential nutrients and trace minerals from your meals. Then, over time, your body starts to starve for nutrients, and that can happen even if you are at your proper weight, or above it. You also become more susceptible to gluten allergies by the way.
Taking a pill to eat isn’t really a healthy way to live. It’s fine once in a while. I have the remedy at home for when I put too much chili in my chili! But if it’s not a one-off problem, you need to find a healthier long-term solution to intestinal problems such as heartburn, H. pylori, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), SIBO, and other ulcer disorders.
That would be ideal because living on PPIs (or H2 antagonists) is not the answer! In fact, it’s no secret that PPIs carry a BLACK BOX WARNING due to the strong drug mugging effect of magnesium. They say that after about a year of use, the hypomagnesemia can be so profound, that it can increase the risk of fatal heart attacks and arrhythmias! Personally, I don’t think a year needs to pass, you can become rapidly deficient in magnesium much faster than a year, especially if you get dehydrated, or you’re low in magnesium, to begin with! But I’m not going to butt heads with anyone about whether it’s a year or 3 months!
Zantac is not a PPI drug, it’s an H2 antagonist.
The makers of Zantac are facing legal challenges to the supposed contamination of NDMA which is a probable carcinogen. Patients have taken the medication for decades while it was sold all over the world. Generic equivalents may be subject to lawsuits as well as the main brand name makers.
If you took Zantac (or similar drugs) and are now receiving therapy for some type of cancer, or you are just worried about developing cancer from having used the medication, please speak to your physician or pharmacist. Additionally, you may refer to the 5 steps above where I’ve outlined a strategy for you. For more information visit the DRUGWATCH website.
As for improving your gut health, here are 3 related articles:
The 3 Surprising Reasons Gastrin Should Be Measured
Causes and Solutions for Dysphagia
Dangerous Drug Mugging Effects by Acid Blockers
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.