Zantac, the popular heartburn medicine, includes an impurity that could cause cancer, the Food and Drug Administration announced Friday. However, officials say, there's no reason to stop taking the drug now.
The impurity is called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) and it's found in water and foods. It has been the basis of a number of recalls in blood pressure medicines over the past year. Right now, though, the FDA says it is still determining if the low levels of NDMA in Zantac pose a risk to patients.
The impurity is found in ranitidine, a key ingredient in Zantac that decreases the amount of acid created by the stomach. It's also available in prescription strength for people with ulcers and other gastrological issues.
"The FDA is not calling for individuals to stop taking ranitidine at this time; however, patients taking prescription ranitidine who wish to discontinue use should talk to their health care professional about other treatment options," the FDA said in a statement. "People taking OTC ranitidine could consider using other OTC medicines approved for their condition. There are multiple drugs on the market that are approved for the same or similar uses as ranitidine."
Zantac's parent company Sanofi said it would cooperate in the investigation.
"Sanofi takes patient safety seriously, and we are committed to working with the FDA," a spokesperson told Fortune. "Zantac OTC (over the counter) has been around for over a decade and meets all the specified safety requirements for use in the OTC market."
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