Heartburn, the colloquial name for acid reflux, is a common complaint, and there are dozens of products on the market meant to treat it. If you’ve been to the pharmacy recently, though, you may have noticed a gap on the shelves – there’s no Zantac to be found. That’s because the FDA pulled Zantac off the market in the fall of 2019 in connection to concerns that it contains a carcinogenic compound. Many patients who previously relied on Zantac, though, are now unsure about how to treat their reflux.
Understanding The Recall
Before you go digging around in an attempt to find Zantac or generic ranitidine, it’s important to acknowledge the very real concerns around the medication – and your potential recourse. According to Marks and Harrison, Attorneys at Law, patients who previously took Zantac may be at a higher risk of liver, stomach, colorectal, and intestinal cancers. What’s more, patients who have been diagnosed with a potential Zantac-related cancer may qualify for a defective products lawsuit.
Patients who previously took Zantac should also be on the lookout for concerning symptoms, well beyond the return of acid reflux. Potential signs of one of these cancers includes sudden weight loss and abdominal pain, itching, jaundice, and feelings of fullness under the left side of the ribs. Given the potential risks, this isn’t a medication you would want to continue taking.
Since you can no longer use Zantac to treat your acid reflux, you’ll need to find an alternative treatment modality, and luckily there are many options on the market, as well as natural remedies. Depending on the severity of your reflex, you may want to consider one or more of the following:
- Preventative Practices: For many people with mild reflux, the best solutions may include simple prevention, like eating smaller meals, avoiding tight clothing, elevating the head of your bed, and eating a diet free of aggravating foods like tomatoes, very spicy or acidic foods, caffeine, and carbonated beverages.
- Minimize Stress: Did you know that stress can increase the frequency of heartburn? Research shows that, over the course of six months, persistent stress and exhaustion predict worsening reflux over the subsequent four months. Obviously there are limits to what you can do to reduce your stress levels, but you can take up yoga, meditation, or other practices to help you manage your emotions.
- Other H2 Blockers: Zantac belongs to a class of medications known as H2 blockers, but it’s hardly the only reflux treatment in that category. If you’ve had success with Zantac in the past, then, you may want to try another H2 blocker, such as Pepcid, Tagamet, or Axid, which function the same way as Zantac, but have not been found to contain any carcinogens.
- Proton Pump Inhibitors: H2 blockers are good for persistent, mild heartburn, but if you were still experiencing residual symptoms when taking Zantac, you may need a Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) instead. These include Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium, and others. Though there are some concerns about long-term side effects with PPIs, especially at high doses, with proper medical oversight, PPIs are a useful intervention.
Many patients were disappointed that Zantac was removed from the market, but with so many other reflux treatment options available, you don’t have to go without treatment. By swapping out potentially risky Zantac for one of these alternatives, you can stop your reflux symptoms without putting yourself in harm’s way.