In a dramatic move, CVS Pharmacy is suspending the sale of Zantac, a popular medication used to treat heartburn. As well, CVS is also suspending the sale of ranitidine, a generic, that also treats heartburn, until further notice.
This news comes almost immediately after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found impurities in some ranitidine medicines, including Zantac. The impurities are classified as a low-level human carcinogen.
Zantac: Banning Is Prudent
Banning the sale of Zantac at this time is prudent. Caution is necessary until the source of the human carcinogen is found. More research by the FDA is underway. Their focus is to find whether low levels of the impurity N-nitrosodimethylamine (or NDMA) are a risk to patients.
According to the FDA, NDMA is a known environmental contaminant. The agency has been investigating NDMA in other common drugs, including blood pressure and heart failure medications, since last year.
This concern also covers Ranitidine. It is an over-the-counter and prescription drug that prevents and relieves heartburn by decreasing the amount of acid in the stomach. It’s also used to treat and prevent ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease.
The good news is that, currently, there are several other drugs available, that provide long-term heartburn relief, but do not contain NDMA. In addition to CVS, drug manufacturer Sandoz Inc. issued a voluntary recall of 14 lots of prescription ranitidine capsules because of the NDMA impurity. Others drug makers also issued recalls.
What To Do Now?
The FDA says that Zantac patients should follow recall instructions provided by the company. In addition, patients must immediately contact their doctor for advice as to which drug they should substitute.
Also, if you were taking tainted Zantac or ranitidine generics, you can return your extra capsules to the store for a refund.
In addition to changing your medications, also consider making some lifestyle changes. For example, limit the amount of coffee you drink everyday, avoid spicy foods, snd stop eating foods that can case acid reflux.
Heartburn is a serious medical problem in the United States. And, with the diets that Americans eat, these statistics don’t surprise many people.
For example, 33 percent of Americans experience heartburn once a month, according to the Harvard Medical School. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases describes heartburn as “a painful, burning feeling in the mid-chest” caused by stomach acid that touches the lining of the esophagus.