Peyton Law Firm, P.L.L.C.

Heartburn is a fact of life for many people, and you may be one of them. Up until a couple of months ago, you probably had no problem taking a couple of Zantac. They would kick in, and you would feel better and go on with your life.

Now, however, you hesitate to take any heartburn medication, even though the Food and Drug Administration says that other medications such as Previcid, Prilosec, Tagamet, Pepcid and Nexium are still safe. While that may be good news, you still wonder if all the years you took Zantac, or its generic equivalent, Ranitidine, caused any harm to your health. Unfortunately, it could be too soon to tell.

What is the problem with Ranitidine?

Doctors have been prescribing this stomach acid reducer for years, and it's been on store shelves. Why is there suddenly a problem, and what is it? The recalls began after an online laboratory and pharmacy called Valisure discovered higher than allowed levels of nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA, which could cause cancer. Apparently, once mixed with stomach acids, just one Zantac pill causes levels of this human carcinogen to reach approximately 3,100 times the limit allowed by the FDA. After this discovery, the recalls began.

NDMA is a possible human carcinogen, and the levels found in Zantac and other Ranitidine medications exceed acceptable levels. Taking this medication periodically may not cause a problem, but for people who take it regularly, either through a prescription or over-the-counter, could be at risk. Recently, the FDA discovered another generic medication called Nizatidine, sold as Axid, which also contains unacceptable levels of NDMA.

How did it get to this point?

The question on everyone's minds is how no one noticed the high levels of NDMA in Ranitidine medications like Zantac. These medications have been on the market for decades. Why is the problem just now coming to light? Sadly, research dating back into the 1980s identified the problem. The research appears to show that, after taking it, Ranitidine produces high levels of this human carcinogen due to nitrites in the manufacturing process, but that has yet to go through official verification.

You may wonder why, if there was research indicating Ranitidine could cause cancer, the FDA and manufacturers didn't pull it from the market before now, and you aren't alone. Are you at risk? All that officials will say at this point is that the risk of cancer is greater in those who took, or take, this medication regularly.

What happens if your doctor diagnoses you with cancer?

As is the case with any dangerous medication, linking it to a cancer diagnosis could prove problematic. These types of product liability cases are complex and often require assistance. If you believe your use of Zantac and/or its generic form Ranitidine caused your cancer, it would probably be worthwhile to seek out a thorough evaluation of your circumstances with a West Virginia attorney experienced in pharmaceutical product liability claims.

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