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What you need to know about the Zantac recall

A prescription pill bottle with pills spilling out.

Nov. 13, 2019—Several makers of the drug ranitidine have recalled their over-the-counter and prescription products because they contain too much of a potentially cancer-causing chemical.

Ranitidine products include brand-name Zantac. It decreases the amount of acid in the stomach. The over-the-counter version is often used to prevent and relieve heartburn. Prescription-strength ranitidine can also be used to treat and prevent ulcers, as well as to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been looking into ranitidine products since learning that some contained a chemical impurity called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). NDMA can cause problems in large amounts. Small amounts are ordinarily present in water and everyday foods, like meats, dairy products and vegetables. And according to FDA, the amount of NDMA in the recalled ranitidine is only slightly more than you'd expect to find in foods like grilled and smoked meats. But it's above the daily amount they say is acceptable.

Drug manufacturers who have voluntarily recalled their ranitidine products include Aurobindo Pharma USA, Dr. Reddy's (who also makes generic drugs for stores like Kroger and Walgreens) and Sanofi, which makes Zantac. Not all manufacturers have been asked to recall their products. And not all dosages of every product have been recalled.

To find out which products have been recalled, you can go to FDA's drug recalls site and type "ranitidine" in the search box.

FDA says that people taking over-the-counter ranitidine may want to consider other medicines approved for the same condition. These include drugs like:

  • Pepcid (famotidine).
  • Tagamet (cimetidine).
  • Nexium (esomeprazole).
  • Prevacid (lansoprazole).
  • Prilosec (omeprazole).

FDA hasn't found any NDMA in tests of these products.

People taking prescription ranitidine who want to stop or switch to something else should talk with their doctor about other treatment options.

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