The same chemical (NDMA) that contaminated antihypertensive drugs starting last year has now been found in Zantac (ranitidine) antacid tablets that are available over-the-counter or by prescription.
I wrote about the contamination and how it affected important drugs in April in this blog.
Risk is dismaying, but small
The presence of NDMA, an industrial contaminant and also residue of fracking, continues to demonstrate the lack of security and purity of our whole drug delivery system, especially with feed stock production in third-world countries where sanitation and accountability are not their hallmarks.
Nevertheless, the actually cancer risk to an individual taking Zantac or ranitidine is vanishingly small. This is likely a batch-by-batch contamination, as it was with the antihypertensives. You can likely continue to use Zantac without serious concern.
Alternatives to ranitidine
There are, however, many OTC alternatives to Zantac (ranitidine) in the same category (called H2 blockers). These include famotidine (Pepcid AC), nizatidine (Axid) and older drugs such as cimetidine.
Stronger alternatives in the PPI category (proton pump inhibitor) include Prilosec (omeprazole), Protonix (pantoprozole) and others. But these have some long-term concerns for safety are should not be casually used.
Finally, we most likely will find that alternative producers of ranitidine will be located that produce unadulterated chemicals, so that Zantac and ranitidine will reappear free of taint. While that will be welcome, it is a sad story that we continue to have this degree of contamination of our drug supply.