News 8 on Call: Why pharmacies stopped selling Zantac

Health

(WTNH) — News 8 is On Call for you. Let’s focus on a popular heartburn drug, ranitidine, also commonly known by its brand name — Zantac.

Major pharmacies have pulled the medication off the shelves along with generic versions.

The move was prompted by the FDA, announcing that it contains a substance that could cause cancer.

What was discovered in Zantac, raising the risk of cancer?

Dr. Sajid Khan, a gastrointestinal surgical oncologist from Yale Medicine said, “The FDA found there’s a high chemical compound called NDMA. So NDMA falls under a class of chemical compounds called Nitrosamines. And nitrosamines are chemical compounds that have been associated with a higher risk for development of cancer, specifically liver, cancer, to a certain extent, other tumors as well such as gastric cancer.”

What is known about the NDMA chemical compound?

“The data comes mostly from animal studies but in animal studies, it has been pretty clear that higher levels of NDMA are associated – can lead to the development of particular types of tumors.”

Should people taking Zantac be worried?

“We don’t have enough data in humans to see what the long term effects of what this will be. The alarm right now has been based on studies on animal studies. So right now, I would say you should have no extra anxiety related to this.”

What are the options to ranitidine or Zantac?

“First and most important thing, talk to your doctor. I would recommend switching over to Prevacid – Protonix or any of the proton-pump inhibitors. And again, these are acids suppressing medications that are also commonly used for the same exact purpose as Zantac or ranitidine.”

Tums is another popular choice for many of us. Dr. Khan says there is no association between the calcium carbonate Tums and ranitidine.

Have a health question? Send it to news8oncall@WTNH.com

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