Learn about the long-term side effects of Zantac and ranitidine so that you can better understand your situation and possible next steps.
What are the Long-term Side Effects of Zantac?
Zantac (or ranitidine) is a medication that was commonly used to treat heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and to treat and prevent stomach and intestinal ulcers.
In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that Zantac contains N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which is a probable carcinogen. Following this announcement, numerous lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers of ranitidine, of which Zantac is the most common.
What is Ranitidine?
To better understand the side effects, it’s good to understand what it is first. Ranitidine (Zantac) is a histamine H2-receptor antagonist (H2 blocker). Histamines are the chemicals in your body that cause allergy-like symptoms. In the stomach, histamines regulate acid secretion. Ranitidine works by reducing an excessive amount of stomach acid brought on by misguided histamines. It is often used as an alternative to taking drugs such as proton pump inhibitors (PPI), which have also been linked to very serious side effects. Ranitidine was available both over the counter and as a prescription.
Unfortunately, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) was discovered in ranitidine. The Environmental Protection Agency considers NDMA a probable carcinogen and it has been linked to an increased risk of cancer. In 2020, the FDA announced that it was requesting manufacturers to remove all ranitidine drugs from the market.
Long-Term Side Effects of Zantac and Ranitidine
Side effects of Zantac (ranitidine) can range from mild side effects such as constipation, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea to serious side effects such as liver failure, meningitis, and cancer.
Long-term side effects from Zantac can include:
- Cancers: Zantac has been associated with an increased incidence of cancers of the bladder, breast, liver, kidney, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, prostate, and intestine.
- Cardiac Disorders: Zantac has been associated with cardiac disorders, including arrhythmias, premature ventricular beats, atrioventricular block with sinus pauses, heart palpitations, and high blood pressure.
- Blood Disorders: Zantac has been associated with anemia, leukopenia, granulocytopenia, thrombocytopenia, agranulocytosis, pancytopenia/neutropenia, marrow hypoplasia or marrow aplasia, aplastic anemia, and acquired immune hemolytic anemia.
- Gastrointestinal Disorders: Zantac has been associated with constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, acute pancreatitis, and rebound hypersecretion.
- Liver Disorders: Zantac has been associated with changes in liver function, hepatitis, jaundice, cholestatic jaundice, and liver failure.
- Renal Disorders: Zantac has been associated with interstitial nephritis and nephrotoxicity.
- Brain Disorders: Zantac has been associated with meningitis and other brain-related complications.
- Reproductive Disorders: Zantac has been associated with temporary impotence, loss of libido, gynecomastia, and galactorrhea.
- Eye Disorders: Zantac has been associated with intraocular pressure changes and blurred vision.
- Psychiatric Disorders: In patients who are elderly or have renal impairment, Zantac has been associated with an increase in depression, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations.
How Long is it Safe to Take Ranitidine?
Is long-term use of ranitidine safe? Initially, ranitidine was thought to be safe for long-term use. In 2002, researchers concluded that long-term use of ranitidine and proton-pump inhibitors may cause vitamin B12 deficiency. In 2008, another group of researchers conducted a review of 189 controlled clinical trials and determined that ranitidine had an “excellent safety profile.”
However, in 2019, the FDA became aware of independent laboratory testing that found NDMA in ranitidine. Subsequent tests conducted by the FDA found NDMA in ranitidine, that NDMA levels increase over time, and that NDMA levels increase significantly when stored at higher temperatures.
Following its new testing and evaluation, the FDA requested that all ranitidine products be removed from the market. The FDA advised consumers to stop taking over-the-counter ranitidine, dispose of it, and not buy any more. The FDA also advised that patients taking prescription ranitidine speak to their health care provider about other treatment options before stopping the medicine.
In summary, any use of ranitidine is no longer considered safe.
Zantac and NDMA
Zantac has been found to contain N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers NDMA to be a probable carcinogen, and it has been linked to the increased incidence of cancer.
Zantac, which contains NDMA, has allegedly caused:
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Intestinal cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
If you took Zantac or ranitidine and were later diagnosed with cancer or another serious long-term side effect, you should consult with an experienced Zantac lawsuit attorney.
Contact an Experienced Zantac Lawyer
If you or a loved one took Zantac or ranitidine and later developed cancer or other serious long-term side effects, you should contact the Guardian Legal Network today. We will put you in touch with an experienced Zantac attorney who will fight to get you the justice you deserve.
- Eric Palmer, “FDA needs to recall Zantac and other ranitidine antacids, says pharmacy that uncovered impurity,” Fierce Pharma, https://www.fiercepharma.com/manufacturing/valisure-fda-needs-to-recall-zantac-and-all-other-ranitidine-antacids-says-pharmacy. Accessed May 20, 2022.
- FDA News Release, “FDA Requests Removal of All Ranitidine Products (Zantac) from the Market,” https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-requests-removal-all-ranitidine-products-zantac-market. Accessed May 20, 2022.
- FDA Statement, “Statement alerting patients and health care professionals of NDMA found in samples of ranitidine,” https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/statement-alerting-patients-and-health-care-professionals-ndma-found-samples-ranitidine . Accessed May 20, 2022.
- J.G. Mills, et al., “The safety of ranitidine in over a decade of use,” Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1365-2036.1997.136312000.x. Accessed May 20, 2022.
- J. Mark Ruscin, et al., “Vitamin B12 Deficiency Associated with Histamine2-Receptor Antagonists and a Proton-Pump Inhibitor,” Annals of Pharmacology, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1345/aph.10325. Accessed May 20, 2022.
- Reuters, “Timeline: Popular heartburn medicine Zantac pulled off store shelves,” https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-fda-heartburn-timeline/timeline-popular-heartburn-medicine-zantac-pulled-off-store-shelves-idUSKBN1X014E. Accessed May 20, 2022.