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The Zantac Cancer Link: What You Need to Know

Posted By Anapol Weiss on this April 7, 2020 at 2:50 pm

Man clutching stomach

Since its release in the early 1980’s, Zantac (Ranititdine) has been one of the most popular over-the-counter and prescription medications for the treatment of heart burn, stomach ulcers and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Ranitidine is a histamine-2 blocker, working by blocking histamines leading to the decrease in the production of stomach acid. In 2019, the FDA became aware of a disturbing link between the drug Zantac and the development of cancer.

Usafe NDMA Levels in Zantac

According to the FDA, an independent laboratory test was done that determined ever increasing levels of a chemical known as NDMA.  According to the FDA’s most recent recall announcement, low levels of NDMA does not pose a significant cancer risk and are even commonly found in drinking water and food. However, higher levels of NDMA pose a greater risk.

NDMA is “an environmental contaminant” and carcinogen according to the Harvard Medical School.  The independent study cited by the FDA states that the levels of NDMA in Zantac increased significantly during the distribution process and handling by patients taking the drug. In addition to this, the study found that older samples of Ranitidine had significantly higher levels of NDMA. “..since we don’t know how or for how long the product might have been stored, we decided that it should not be available to consumers and patients unless its quality can be assured,” officials said in the recent announcement.

In a Public Health statement put out by the CDC, NDMA exposure in low levels over a long period of time was found to lead to the development of cancer. The increased levels of NDMA is linked to exposure to higher temperatures and storing old medications for long period of time. These findings show that users of Zantac or Ranitidine are at risk of developing cancer after using this medication.

What to Do Next?

The FDA urges patients taking Zantac to stop the immediate use of the medication, and to consult with your doctor regarding alternative treatment. Current patients using Zantac are requested, by the FDA, to dispose of the drugs as follows:

  1. If the drug is on the FDA Flush List, you are advised to flush the medication down the toilet.
  2. If the drug is not flushable, the FDA offers the following disposal advice:


Dispose of most medicines in your trash at home:

  • Mix medicines (liquid or pills; do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unappealing substance such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds;
  • Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag;
  • Throw away the container in your trash at home; and
  • Delete all personal information on the prescription label of empty medicine bottles or medicine packaging, then trash or recycle the empty bottle or packaging.

If you have been prescribed or are taking over-the-counter Zantac medication for over 1 year, and have been diagnosed with cancer please reach out to us. Anapol Weiss is currently representing individuals who took Ranitidine and have developed cancer as a result of the treatment.

Topics Mass Torts, Unsafe Products