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November 25, 2020
 

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Heartburn Medication Warning: What You Need to Know

FDA warns of possible cancer-causing impurity in some ranitidine medicines

Note: this article is provided by the ONU Healthwise Pharmacy.
You may need to check your medicine cabinet for this acid reflux medication.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has discovered that some medications used for acid reflux contain low levels of a possible cancer-causing impurity.

These medications are found under the names ranitidine (active ingredient) and Zantac (brand). These drugs are available over the counter and via prescription.

These medications work to prevent heartburn and provide relief tied to acid ingestion by reducing the amount of acid the stomach makes. The prescription version is used to treat and prevent ulcers of the stomach; it also treats gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

The possible cancer-causing impurity (a nitrosamine impurity) the FDA found is called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).

This past year, the FDA issued a recall of blood pressure and heart failure medicines called angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) after the finding of nitrosamine impurities.

The agency is currently working to determine whether the low levels of NDMA found in some ranitidine medications will place people at risk. The FDA said it would post more information as it becomes available.

NDMA is commonly found in water and some foods. The FDA noted that the amount of NDMA found in some ranitidine medications is a little more than the amount you may find in common foods.

This announcement is not to encourage consumers to stop taking ranitidine at this time, according to the FDA. Note that other over-the-counter medications are approved to treat the same conditions as ranitidine.

The FDA recommended that consumers taking the prescription version speak with their doctor about other treatment options. The agency is also encouraging people to report any side effects tied to ranitidine to the FDA’s MedWatch program.

Speak with your health care provider if you have any questions.