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Potential Dangers of a Commonly Used Drug

Heartburn is anything but a minor affliction, particularly for the people who suffer from it. It is caused by acid reflux, where stomach contents travel up the esophagus. Pain takes various forms. For some, it’s sharp and burning, particularly in the chest area. Others experience a tightening in their throats.

Cancer-Causing Contaminants Discovered

Many heartburn sufferers use an over-the-counter drug called ranitidine, found in Zantac, manufactured by Sanofi, and other name-brand products. However, that option was taken away when Valisure, an online pharmacy, discovered dangerous levels of nitrosamine, also known as NDMA. The potentially cancer-causing contaminant forms and degrades the drug when stored for lengthy periods of time, particularly in higher temperatures.

Sanofi and a majority of other manufacturers offering the medication pulled the product from store shelves voluntarily and urged users to throw out the drug. High-profile pharmacy chains also followed suit by removing the heartburn medication off their shelves.

Ironically, the Food and Drug Administration was slower to accept the findings. The agency was initially skeptical of Valisure’s methodologies, claiming that tests involved heating the product, creating higher levels of NDMA. However, the FDA eventually came around and validated the results. They also suggested the use of non-NDMA heartburn treatments that include Pepcid, Tagamet, Nexium, Prevacid, and Prilosec.

Testing continues to identify any potential long-term effects for those formerly using the medication.

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