What is Zantac and Why is it so Dangerous?
Zantac, also called ranitidine, was a medicine people could easily buy, either without a prescription or with one, until April 2020. Now, you can't find it for sale in the United States anymore.
This medicine was part of a family of drugs that help lessen the acid in your stomach. It was useful for many things, like healing and stopping ulcers in your stomach and intestines. It also helped when your stomach made too much acid, like in a condition called Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. People took Zantac for another problem called GERD, where acid from the stomach goes back up into the food pipe, causing a burning feeling. Zantac first obtained FDA approval in 1983 and by 1988, it had become the best-selling drug in the whole wide world.
But then in 2019, a pharmacy in Connecticut named Valisure discovered a problem with some ranitidine medicines, including Zantac. They informed the FDA that their tests found a dangerous substance called NDMA (N-Nitrosodimethylamine) in these products. NDMA is a potential human carcinogen and was once used in making rocket fuel.
This same chemical was detected in blood pressure medications Valsartan and Losartan, leading to recalls in 2018. In those cases, the drugs were contaminated with NDMA during manufacturing in a Chinese factory. With Zantac, it's believed that the drug might break down into NDMA when digested due to its unstable nature, but more research is needed to understand why NDMA is present in ranitidine (Zantac).