WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement discussing the potential dangers users of ranitidine medications face. Ranitidine, the generic version of the anti-heartburn medication Zantac, may contain a potentially carcinogenic chemical according to the latest statement announced by the FDA. The FDA has begun investigating the presence of this particular carcinogen in high-blood pressure and anti-heart failure meds for over a year and demanded a recall of some of those drugs because of dangerously high levels of the chemical.
The FDA expressed concern in a statement that ranitidine contains the potentially cancer-causing agent N-nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA for short. NDMA is a suspected carcinogen. According to the FDA, laboratory tests show that NDMA may cause cancer, but the link has not been proven conclusively. NDMA contaminates most of the foods we consume in the U.S. The chemical compound is present in water, vegetables, dairy foods, and some meats. However, the FDA has stopped short of declaring a recall over food products suspected to contained NDMA, unlike the blood pressure medication.
Right now, the FDA does not know the risks associated with taking ranitidine regularly. The agency said that researchers are working on that issue and will inform the public if and when the agency’s scientists reach a conclusion. However, the FDA asserts that the levels of NDMA it has detected in ranitidine are very low levels and barely exceed the levels ingested in common foods.
Despite finding only low levels of NDMA, the FDA recommends that patients taking ranitidine-based medications talk with their healthcare providers about changing medications to treat their digestive issues if they are taking prescription levels of ranitidine. People who take ranitidine as an over-the-counter medication should consider changing to another brand to treat their dyspepsia.
The FDA solicited reports of illnesses, particularly cancer diagnoses, relating to NDMA. A physician who is treating a patient for an illness or injury caused by NDMA should report the case to MedWatch.
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