When medical professionals prescribe medications like Zantac, they make a decision that the benefits outweigh the risks for that patient. Unfortunately, if doctors do not have full information about the hazards of a drug, it is the patients who suffer. When extreme side effects or dangerous health risks come to light, doctors, the FDA, and even sometimes the drug manufacturers themselves step in to warn of the potential dangers. This recently occurred with Zantac.

Zantac, the brand name of the drug ranitidine, is an H2 blocker that blocks the production of stomach acid by interfering with the histamine on histamine H2 receptors located on cells at the stomach wall’s lining. Blocking the body’s natural processes will naturally lead to side effects, some minor, and some serious. The side effects can be more severe when the drug is contaminated by a carcinogen.

In addition to expected side effects, those who take a ranitidine product like Zantac may be at increased risk of cancer due to contamination by N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) during manufacturing. In 2019 the FDA announced voluntary recalls by the manufacturers of Zantac and generic medications containing ranitidine due to the NDMA contamination.

If you or a loved one are taking ranitidine, please be aware of the side effects and speak with your doctor if you experience any troubling or out-of-the-ordinary consequences. At Showard Law Firm, we are here to help if you experience a Zantac injury such as cancer.


Zantac side effects


The most common side effect of ranitidine is headaches, which may be severe. For injectable forms, the most common side effect is pain at the injection site. Other common side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain or discomfort


Serious side effects are possible, and you should call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Signs of liver problems, including tiredness, jaundice, dark urine, and stomach pain
  • Cognitive impairment like hallucinations, depression, confusion, irritation, or blurry vision
  • Abnormal heart rate, with symptoms including racing heart, fatigue, and shortness of breath


As with any medication, seek emergency medical attention if you show any signs of an allergic reaction to the drug. These include:

  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Facial swelling, including swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat


Contamination and Zantac cancer


In September 2019, the FDA reported that several heartburn medications had been contaminated with NDMA, a known human carcinogen. The contamination was shown to affect both brand-name and generic versions of ranitidine. As a result, drug makers have announced voluntary recalls, and major outlets like Wal-Mart, CVS, and Rite-Aid have pulled Zantac and related products from their shelves.


Does Zantac cause cancer?


NDMA, the impurity in some forms of Ranitidine, is known to cause cancer in humans. The affected forms and batches are sold both over the counter and by prescription and are available in tablet, oral suspension, and syrup form.

NDMA has been linked to many varieties of cancer, including:

  • Stomach
  • Pancreatic
  • Colorectal
  • Bladder
  • Intestinal
  • Kidney
  • Liver
  • Esophageal
  • Ovarian
  • Testicular
  • Uterine

If you are suffering from cancer and believe it may be linked to the ingestion of Zantac, speak with your doctor, and consider discussing your situation with an experienced defective drug lawyer at Showard Law Firm.


Recalls of ranitidine – brand name Zantac and generic forms


Brand name Zantac is available under the French company Sanofi. Zantac was originally developed by GlaxoSmithKline, and now ranitidine is available in generic forms.

Both the name brand Zantac and generics have been voluntarily recalled by their manufacturers. If your ranitidine was manufactured by any of the following, speak with your doctor to determine whether you should continue taking the medication:

  • Amneal Pharmaceuticals
  • American Health Packaging
  • Apotex Corp.
  • Aurobindo Pharma USA
  • Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd
  • Lannett Company
  • Novitium Pharma LLC
  • Perrigo Company PLC
  • Sandoz
  • Sanofi


More specific information about which doses and forms of ranitidine by each of the manufacturers has been recalled can be found at the FDA’s Zantac update page.


Zantac side effects with long term use


Zantac is considered safe for use up to one (1) year, but its long-term use has not been extensively studied. Given the risks of using competitor medications long term, it is reasonable to question whether Zantac is safe to use for longer periods of time.

Ranitidine drugs like Zantac operate differently than proton pump inhibitors, which are not recommended for long-term therapy. Extended use of proton pump inhibitors may lead to:

  • Pneumonia
  • Dementia
  • Hypergastrinemia
  • Fractures
  • Clostridium difficile–associated diarrhea
  • Hypomagnesemia
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Acute interstitial nephritis

One of the difficulties of undisclosed risks is that the public and medical professionals are not on the lookout for them until many people have reported similar medical problems related to a medication. If you experience medical problems while taking Zantac, be sure to discuss it with your doctor to determine whether it may be related.


Discuss your Zantac side effects with an attorney


If you or a loved one have suffered serious side effects from Zantac, including cancer, call us today to speak with a dangerous drug lawyer at Showard Law Firm. We understand what you are going through and are ready to take on pharmaceutical companies when their drugs cause harm. A consultation is free and confidential.


Additional resources regarding Zantac side effects:

  1. Healthline, Zantac Is Voluntarily Recalled After Cancer-Causing Chemical Detected, https://www.healthline.com/health-news/fda-warns-zantac-may-have-carcinogen
  2. Harvard Medical School, Popular heartburn drug ranitidine recalled: What you need to know and do, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/popular-heartburn-drug-ranitidine-recalled-what-you-need-to-know-and-do-2019092817911
  3. FDA, FDA Updates and Press Announcements on NDMA in Zantac (ranitidine), https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-updates-and-press-announcements-ndma-zantac-ranitidine