Zantac and other products containing Ranitidine are commonly prescribed to control the symptoms of gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) in patients who are receiving chemotherapy for cancer.
Why is Zantac Prescribed During Chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy can be extremely hard on your gastrointestinal tract due to the epithelium, which is the cells that form in the lining of the tract. The epithelium is one of the fastest-growing cells in your entire body and, your intestinal lining can regenerate itself every five to seven days.
The bad news is that fast growth is the characteristic that distinguishes many cancer cells from your normal cells. This is why many chemotherapy drugs target your cellular growth mechanism of fast-growing cells.
Because of this, the cells in your stomach and intestinal tract that are dividing at a rapid rate of speed, are also targeted. These cells are also very sensitive to chemotherapy drugs.
The damage chemo does to your digestive tract can be complicated by radiation therapy, which can have long-term negative effects. The pairing of Zantac and chemotherapy is effective in treating GERD.
Valisure, the Food and Drug Administration and NDMA in Zantac
The bad news for you, if you take Zantac to control some of the side effects of chemo, is that this is not accidental or unintentional contamination of a safe drug.
The online Connecticut pharmacy, Valisure, tests medications regularly for quality and consistency problems. During their testing of Ranitidine (Zantac), their company found very high levels of NDMA “in every lot tested, across multiple manufacturers and dosage forms of the drug Ranitidine.”
NDMA is a chemical that the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the World Health Organization all have classified as a substance that can cause cancer.
The results of the tests by Valisure were in line with other studies from such places as Stanford University that found the NDMA in Zantac was more than likely due to the “inherent instability” of the Ranitidine molecule.
Zantac Before Starting Chemotherapy
To be sure, many patients who are currently using Zantac are upset by the news that Zantac/Ranitidine may cause cancer. Many doctors and researchers have studied any adverse effects of chemo on the digestive system of humans and the use of Zantac/Ranitidine before beginning chemotherapy. They know that it’s helped an untold number of patients minimize the effects of the treatment. They said:
- Chemo is known to cause heartburn and GERD, which is why Zantac/Ranitidine is routinely prescribed.
- Chemo and radiation could damage the salivary glands and make it difficult for a patient to swallow.
- Chemo can also cause inflammation and ulcers in the mucous membranes of a patient’s stomach and intestines. Ranitidine is an approved treatment.
As you may imagine, the overriding issues with Zantac and chemotherapy now that Zantac/Ranitidine was recalled is cause for concern.
In some cases, proton pump inhibitors such as Prilosec, Nexium, and Protonix could help in preventing damage to the mucous membrane layers of the stomach. Still, prolonged use of proton pump inhibitors could cause an increased risk of kidney disease, dementia, and heart attacks.
Additionally, some proton pump inhibitors can cause an adverse reaction to some chemotherapy drugs. This is because certain chemo drugs need an acidic environment to work, so the timing of the H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors is important to avoid any negative interactions between the drugs.
What About the Food and Drug Administration Reports of “Unacceptable Levels of NDMA in Zantac/Ranitidine?
On October 2, 2019, the Food and Drug Administration reported that the initial results of Zantac/Ranitidine testing said that, “To date, the agency’s early, limited testing has found unacceptable levels of NDMA in samples of Ranitidine.” The Food and Drug Administration at that time didn’t specify how unacceptable the levels are or have it raised any Zantac/chemo questions.
In June of 2019, Valisure reported its findings to the Food and Drug Administration. Three months later, Valisure filed a citizen’s petition that urged the Food and Drug Administration to recall Zantac and stop all sales.
Additionally, Emery Pharma corroborated the evidence from Valisure. On January 20, 2020, Emery Pharma told the Food and Drug Administration that Zantac is a time and temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical that turns into NDMA when exposed to heat.
Then April 1, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration made an announcement that all manufacturers of Zantac and the generic forms of Zantac are to withdraw them from the market effective immediately.
Contact The Jeffcoat Firm
The Zantac attorneys at The Jeffcoat Firm in Columbia believe that numerous regulators outside of the United States have warned patients about taking Zantac, saying that there were safer alternatives.
We are here to help you with your Zantac case and offer a free consultation to evaluate your particular case and advise you of your next steps.