FDA asks all manufacturers of ranitidine to pull heartburn drug from shelves, citing cancer risk

FILE - In this photo illustration, packages and pills of Zantac, a popular medication which decreases stomach acid production and prevents heartburn, sit on a table on September 19, 2019 in New York City. (Photo Illustration by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that it is asking manufacturers of all prescription and over-the-counter ranitidine drugs, commonly sold under the brand name Zantac, to pull the medication from shelves, citing an ongoing investigation regarding a contaminant in the drug that could cause cancer.

“The agency has determined that the impurity in some ranitidine products increases over time and when stored at higher than room temperatures and may result in consumer exposure to unacceptable levels of this impurity,” the FDA said. 

As a result of this contamination, the FDA is requesting an immediate market withdrawal of all ranitidine products.

According to the announcement, the FDA is sending letters to all ranitidine manufacturers requesting the immediate withdrawal of their product from the market. 

Consumers are advised by the FDA to cease taking any OTC ranitidine they currently have or consider using other approved over-the-counter products.

“Patients taking prescription ranitidine should speak with their health care professional about other treatment options before stopping the medicine, as there are multiple drugs approved for the same or similar uses as ranitidine that do not carry the same risks,” the agency said. 

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, The FDA recommends patients and consumers avoid traveling to drug take-back locations, providing a video on how to properly dispose of useless medications.