You may have heard about the recent recall of a number of heartburn drugs, including Zantac. The FDA first alerted consumers about a possible cancer risk linked to ranitidine, the active ingredient in many of these medications. Zantac and its analogues were quickly pulled from shelves in pharmacies across the nation. However, many consumers felt lied to. These drugs never mentioned cancer as a potential side effect.
If you were one of the patients potentially affected by this recall, the one thing you shouldn’t do is ignore it. Exposure to a potential carcinogen is a serious “side effect,” and any company that endangered consumers should be held responsible for their carelessness.
What Is the Danger?
A medication you may use every day has been linked to a chemical that can cause cancer. Ranitidine, commonly used to decrease stomach acid, is often recommended as a treatment for heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcers, and other similar ailments. However, the substance may be connected to N-nitrosodimethylamine, a carcinogen often referred to as NDMA.
When NDMA was initially detected in medical tests, many companies claimed the result was due to the contamination of a small batch of drugs. However, an independent study by a third-party laboratory in California found another explanation. When exposed to the heat and acidity environment in a stomach, ranitidine may break down into various substances—including NDMA. Though FDA testing has detected lower NDMA levels than some other laboratories reported, officials report the carcinogen still appears in unsafe concentrations.
What Should Consumers Know?
Though the NDMA levels in Zantac aren’t high enough to cause acute poisoning, the drug will increase the risks of many types of cancer among those who take it. We recommend patients who are taking Zantac find a substitute and then schedule an appointment with their doctor. It’s important for your care providers to know about cancer risk factors in your life.
Are Investigators Making a Big Deal Out of Nothing?
Some drug companies that don’t want to bear the economic loss of the recall have argued that humans can be exposed to NDMA through their jobs and their food. This is in some cases true, but it doesn’t let pharmaceutical companies off the hook. They have a responsibility to fully test each product and warn consumers of potential side effects before putting it on the market. Further, the foods that contain NDMA—such as grilled meats and beer—aren’t a part of most people’s daily diet (and have been connected with other adverse health outcomes).
What Symptoms Should I Look For?
Cancer may take a long time to develop after exposure to a carcinogen, so you may not currently have any ill side effects. However, if you’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer and have a history of using Zantac or another ranitidine-based heartburn drug, you should speak to our team regarding your legal options.
NDMA has been linked to cancers of the:
Doctors have also found links, in some cases, to:
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Multiple Myeloma
For anyone who took Zantac regularly and/or over long periods of time, giving NDMA time to accumulate in their body and damage their DNA, any cancer diagnosis may be cause for concern. Even if NDMA hasn’t been linked to the specific type of cancer you have, it could be worth it to ask more questions on whether Zantac played a role in its development.
Defend Your Rights with a Zantac Lawsuit
FDA warnings are vital to alerting consumers of potentially dangerous products, but they are typically issued after a number of people have reported serious side effects tied to one drug or device. Analysis of FDA data found that, over 16 years of review, around 27% of approved drugs were either removed from the market or issued serious “black box” warnings. These drugs are used for an average of 5 years before regulatory decisions are put in place. In that time, many patients may suffer severely debilitating effects and incur high medical costs.
Our team at Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C. has been helping clients take on big pharma for defective and/or dangerous drugs for almost 40 years. There is simply no excuse for pharmaceutical companies to omit comprehensive testing before selling any treatment. We all know they are making plenty of money, yet they continue to endanger patient lives so they can rake in even higher profits.