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Approximately 20% of Americans are estimated to have gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, and ranitidine-based heartburn medications such as Zantac can be prescribed or taken over the counter. Residents of West Virginia should be aware of the risks associated with taking ranitidine. Many companies have recently voluntarily recalled or stopped selling medications that have ranitidine due to the potential ability to break down into the carcinogen n-nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA.

An independent online pharmacy that tests medications before dispensing them found that all of its tested batches for ranitidine-containing medications, from every manufacturer, had over 3,000 times the FDA’s daily limit for NDMA. There is a potential for the ranitidine molecule to naturally break down into NDMA, thereby making ranitidine medications potentially risky to take. Other medications for heartburn that do not have ranitidine were found to not have any NDMA.

Generic medications are the ones typically covered by insurance, and the costs are often lowered by relaxing quality control efforts. Herein lies the issue: GERD and heartburn medications that have ranitidine as their active medication are not always being tested, and some companies may produce a drug with a higher concentration of NDMA. Current research suggests that prolonged exposure to NDMA causes tumors, and the effects are cumulative, making even occasional users at risk. While the FDA hasn’t issued a recall for any products containing ranitidine, the organization has suggested that users of over-the-counter ranitidine consider alternative GERD and heartburn solutions.

If an individual is or has been taking over-the-counter ranitidine for a prolonged time, he or she may be entitled to damages, especially if cancer is found to be a direct result of taking the the medication. An attorney with experience in mass tort law may help navigate the complexities of the case and an advocate for the individual claim as mass torts are multiple individual filings that are pursued separately.