January 2020 update: The FDA has announced two more recalls of prescription forms of ranitidine. The FDA also notified the public about a recall of nizatidine, a chemically similar antacid.
In September, the FDA issued a recall for Zantac. Only certain lots made by a single manufacturer were included in the recall, but many retailers have pulled the product from their shelves completely as the FDA continues looking into the safety of the drug.
So, what should you do if you’re one of the millions of Americans that take this drug for ulcers or heartburn? John Davison, MD, weighs in with all the details.
What is Zantac?
According to Davison, “Zantac is an H2 blocker. It blocks the signal to the stomach to make acid. It is an old medication and has been around for years. There are several manufacturers of the generic form of this medication, called ranitidine.”
Why has it been recalled?
According to the FDA, some lots of ranitidine have been found to contain small amounts of a substance called NDMA. NDMA is carcinogenic (it may cause cancer). Certain lots of the brand name, Zantac, and generic ranitidine are included in this recall.
What to Do if You Take Zantac
You can look to see if your Zantac (ranitidine) is on the list of recalled lots. If it isn’t, you can continue taking it. But, if yours is included on the list of recalled lots, or you want to try something else while the FDA continues to investigate, you have some options.
Medical Alternatives to Ranitidine
There are other drugs that prevent heartburn, aside from Zantac and ranitidine. You could try:
- A different H2 blocker, such as Pepcid (famotidine) or Tagamet (cimetidine)
- A proton pump inhibitor (Prilosec, Nexium, Protonix, etc.)
According to Davison, you might even stop all acid-blocking medication. “Many patients start these medications and never stop them. They may not still be needed. This can be a good thing. Although these medications are well tolerated, there may be some side effects from long term use.”
Still Have Questions About the Zantac Recall?
Reach out to your primary care doctor.
Non-Medical Alternatives to Ranitidine
There are a few things you can try to prevent heartburn without taking medication. According to Davison, those include:
- Eating smaller meals
- Not laying down for a few hours after eating
- Losing weight if you’re overweight
- Avoiding foods that aggravate heartburn (fatty foods, spicy foods, tomato-based sauces, alcohol, carbonated beverages, caffeine and chocolate are the biggies)
- Elevating the head of your bed
- Wearing looser fitting clothes
You can find the latest updates on the Zantac recall on the FDA website.