What is Ranitidine?
Ranitidine is sold under the brand name Zantac. As a generic drug, ranitidine is made by a variety of drug companies to decrease production of stomach acid. Ranitidine is most commonly used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), heartburn, peptic ulcer disease, and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. The medication is included in a class of drugs called histamine-2 receptor blockers (also known as H2 blockers).
Ranitidine works by inhibiting histamine action at the histamine H2 receptors in the gastric parietal cells. Patients most commonly take ranitidine by mouth, in tablet, capsule, or liquid form, before their first meal and/or last meal of the day. The medication is available without a prescription as an over-the-counter treatment.
GlaxoSmithKline (at the time, Glaxo Group Research) first introduced ranitidine on the market as Zantac in 1981. By 1987 it was the world’s best-selling prescription drug. Zantac ownership has changed hands several times over the past 38 years since GSK first brought it to market. Companies such as Boehringer Ingelheim, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer have also manufactured the drug. Ranitidine is now made by Sanofi and sold in a variety of forms, with trade names that include Zantac, Zantac 75, Zantac Efferdose, Zantac injection, and Zantac Syrup.
What is Ranitidine Used For?
Ranitidine is used to decrease stomach acid production and treat, prevent or relieve:
- Gastric ulcers
- Duodenal ulcers
- Ulceration (when combined with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Zollinger-Ellison syndrome
- Erosive esophagitis
- Upper gastrointestinal bleeding
- Stress-induced ulcers
- Postoperative ulcers
Prescription ranitidine is also available as a syrup for infants whose lower esophageal sphincter is not fully developed. In such cases, stomach acid can flow into the infant’s esophagus, causing acid reflux, sores, and ulcers. Ranitidine for infants is used to prevent:
- Stomach ulcers
- Esophageal ulcers
- Duodenum ulcers
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Erosive esophagitis
Infants and children should not be given over-the-counter Zantac (Zantac OTC).
Ranitidine Zantac Precautions
Ranitidine can enter the breast milk and be ingested by a feeding infant. Health care professionals are advised to exercise caution when prescribing Zantac to women who are breastfeeding.
Medications that decrease stomach acid production have been linked to an increased risk of acute gastroenteritis and community-acquired pneumonia in children.
Use of ranitidine may potentially mask stomach cancer. Furthermore, patients who have kidney or liver impairment should exercise caution when using ranitidine.
Ranitidine Zantac Side Effects
Ranitidine Side Effects in Adults
- Blurred vision
- Unusual bleeding/bruising
- Extreme fatigue
- Atrioventricular block
- Premature ventricular beats
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Infectious diarrhea
- Cholestatic hepatitis
- Liver failure
Ranitidine Side Effects in Severely Ill, Elderly Patients
- Mental confusion
Ranitidine Side Effects in Children
NDMA Cancer Risk
N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) is a water-soluble organic (containing the element carbon) chemical. Its chemical formula is C2H6N2O. NDMA essentially consists of a nitrite group (NO2) attached chemically to a dimethylamine (DMA) group ((CH₃)₂NH). This fact is fundamental to the Zantac cancer connection that is discussed below. NDMA is a yellow liquid with little or no obvious taste or odor. It was once used to make rocket fuel but today is made only for research purposes. Nevertheless, it can be produced as a byproduct of manufacturing processes and humans can be exposed to NDMA in relatively small amounts through a variety of products, including tobacco, foods (cured meat, fish, cheese, beer), shampoos, cleansers, and pesticides.
NDMA is a semi volatile organic chemical that belongs to a family of chemicals known as N-nitrosamines. According to the EPA, N-nitrosamines are part of “a family of potent carcinogens.”
Does Ranitidine Cause Cancer?
Since the FDA approved Zantac in the 1980s, numerous studies have shown a link between ranitidine and cancer. One study published in the journal Chemosphere in 2017 showed that ranitidine forms NDMA when placed in drinking water.
An earlier study published in the journal Carcinogenesis showed that a person who consumes ranitidine has a 400-fold increase of NDMA concentration in their urine. Also noteworthy, researchers in the study found that NDMA excretion rates after ranitidine intake equaled or exceeded those observed in patients with schistosomiasis, a disease in which N-nitrosamines are implicated as the cause of bladder cancer.
In 2004, researchers from the National Cancer Institute found a link between ranitidine and bladder cancer. The study noted that “N-Nitrosamines are known carcinogens, and nitrate ingestion has been related to bladder cancer risk.”
California Ranitidine Cancer Attorneys
The Zantac cancer attorneys at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman have extensive experience aggressively fighting against pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and market unsafe drugs. We are using our formidable resources and in-depth experience to investigate ranitidine cancer claims and possible ranitidine lawsuits.
We are accepting generic Zantac (ranitidine) cases in California. Our cancer attorneys have handled many cancer cases in California and across the US, including the three Roundup lawsuits filed against Monsanto that resulted in record-breaking verdicts for our clients. Among those are a $2.055 billion verdict and a $289.2 million verdict for the plaintiffs. Our attorneys were also involved in Actos bladder cancer litigation, representing clients across the US who alleged they developed bladder cancer after using Takeda Pharmaceutical’s diabetes drug.
Among our highly skilled and extensively knowledgeable cancer attorneys: