Zantac, a popular and much used brand of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) medication has been taken off the shelves of pharmacies since April 1st this year following a mandatory withdrawal notice from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That said, you shouldn’t be taking Zantac or any other medication for heartburn that has the main ingredient, ranitidine, in it.
The reason for the FDA’s action is a link between ranitidine and several forms of cancer. It did take the FDA several months to issue the withdrawal, but the doubt and concern over the use of Zantac and similar brands have been going on now for some time and many companies initiated their own recalls before the FDA actually finally acted.
What’s wrong with Zantac?
Zantac is an effective heartburn medication, but appears to have potentially fatal side-effects. The main ingredient in Zantac and generic drugs based on the same ingredients as Zantac, is something called ranitidine. Ranitidine works by effectively countering a naturally occurring excess of acid in the stomach that is associated with heartburn. Medical research into the effects of ranitidine shows that it can break down into a potentially carcinogenic compound called N-Nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA, for short. This can occur in the body after taking the medication or even while the medication has been stored on pharmacy shelves or in the distribution network.
Like many types of cancer, the direct link between ranitidine (and a related ingredient used in other heartburn medications, natizidine) is hard to establish because it takes time for a cancer to develop and longer still before obvious symptoms appear. This means that even if you have run out of Zantac (you can no longer be prescribed or buy it over the counter) it might be worth considering having yourself checked for any signs of the following cancers, especially if you have been taking the medication for several years on a regular basis:
- Bladder cancer
- Brain cancer
- Cancer in the small and large intestines
- Colorectal cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Intestinal cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer (if you have never smoked)
- Multiple myeloma
- Nervous System Disorders
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Ovarian cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Throat/nasal cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Uterine cancer
The case for legal action
As is the case with many drugs that have been found to be implicated in causing human illness, it often takes legal action to persuade the manufacturer to stop manufacturing and distributing their products. It is estimated that 60 million Americans have been taking anti-heartburn and GERD medications, including Zantac on a regular basis. That’s a lot of money finding its way into the hands of companies like Sanofi (Zantac’s manufacturer) as well as big chain pharmacies like Walgreens. It’s not surprising that drug manufacturers are loathed to recall their products or admit that they are potentially dangerous.
As a result of research into the link between ranitidine and cancer, there were a number of recalls of heartburns medications towards the end of last year. Sanofi eventually recalled stocks of Zantac from pharmacies, and the FDA also called for a voluntary recall, but until 1st April this year this still left Zantac and other generic products on pharmacy shelves. Not everyone takes keen interest in what is going on in the pharmaceutical world.
It has been alleged that the manufacturers of Zantac and other generic drugs containing ranitidine have not done enough to warn the customers of their products that a potential carcinogen maybe present. It has been further alleged that manufacturers have known about the presence of NDMA and its carcinogenic properties in their drugs since the early1980s but have continued to sell them without regard to the health and safety of millions of people.
There have been a number of lawsuits already in progress filed by individuals who allege that their cancers have been caused by prolonged use of Zantac or another generic containing ranitidine. There have also been class action lawsuits filed by people who have taken Zantac or other similar medications for years and are claiming compensation for the amount of money they have spent on purchasing the drugs, even if they have not developed cancer.
Contact an experienced personal injury attorney
If you have been taking Zantac, or a similar medication which has now been removed from sale because of its potentially carcinogenic properties, you should contact a Zantac lawsuit attorney to discuss filing a lawsuit for compensation, whether you have developed cancer or not. Contact the Keith Williams Law Group in Nashville for aggressive representation. The office can be contacted at (866)820-4457.