Published on January 23, 2020
If you take the popular acid-reducing medication Zantac or any of the generic versions of the drug that go under the name ranitidine, then you likely have already heard about the ongoing lab testing and reporting by the Food and Drug Administration and a variety of independent testing facilities across the United States and Europe. Currently, there is a voluntary recall for all ranitidine-containing medications in the U.S. due to findings by a Connecticut-based online pharmacy named Valisure, who reported these findings to the FDA in September of 2019.
The findings concluded that after exposure to a temperature increase such as the conditions inside the body, ranitidine generates a nitrosamine impurity known as N-nitroso-dimethylamine, or NDMA, which is listed as a “probable human carcinogen” due to the fact that exposure to the impurity likely cause cancer in humans. There are a few issues with these findings, though, notably the ongoing issue about whether or not NDMA is produced in any significant quantities in the human body (Valisure’s testing methods have been criticized as being performed at unrealistically high temperatures), as well as the actual danger of the levels in question regardless of temperature. In fact, many medical professionals have determined that the level of NDMA present in ranitidine is the same as the level present in things such as smoked meat.
These disagreements and ongoing speculations about the negative impact of this highly-effective acid blocker and popular acid reflux medication are part of why the FDA has chosen to avoid a mandatory recall up to this point. However, retailers such as Walmart, Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens have instituted a policy that will issue refunds to any customers who purchased this medicine through them, and major drug producers such as Sanofi, Apotex Corp, and Sandoz have discontinued production until further notice.
If you have decided that you would like to find an alternative acid-reducer in order to avoid these possibly fatal side effects of Zantac and ranitidine, it is important that you understand how to properly transition to another medication. It is very important that you work with your doctor to make this decision since there are many different drug interactions and side effects that you need to know about before taking any new drugs. Additionally, you may find yourself wondering if Zantac has any withdrawal symptoms that you should anticipate.
Does Zantac Have Withdrawal Symptoms?
Typically when someone thinks about withdrawal symptoms, they think of things like nicotine and other addictive substances, and the physical and psychological impacts that come with both tapering or quitting them cold turkey. In some cases, such as in the case of severe alcoholics or opioid addicts, quitting without tapering can even be fatal. When transitioning from your acid-blocking medication, you will luckily not need to worry about withdrawal symptoms as serious as these; however, there are some symptoms that you should know about.
Increased Acid Production
If you take Zantac or ranitidine as a daily medication and were to completely stop taking it abruptly, your stomach may immediately increase acid production, and therefore cause serious discomfort with the excess of acids in your stomach. This can make you feel extremely ill, especially after you are used to the positive effects of the drug that you have been taking. This is known as “rebound acid hyperproduction.”
Another possible withdrawal symptom of cutting Zantac or ranitidine from your regimen without tapering is serious indigestion. If your stomach does not immediately begin producing pre-Zantac levels of stomach acid, it will lead to issues with the food that you are eating and your stomach’s inability to process the food effectively.
How To Properly Stop Taking Zantac
If you are planning to cease taking Zantac or ranitidine, speak with your doctor first in order to develop a plan for tapering off of the drug and identify other alternatives that solve the same problems. If your concern is about the cancer-causing effects of ranitidine and the production of NDMA in this medicine, then there are a variety of alternatives available for you including things like Proto Pump Inhibitors and other H2 blockers that work just as well as Zantac.
It is typically suggested that any individual who is taking an acid-reducing medication tapers from their current dosage. Reducing your dosage by 25% a week until completion is typically a safe and comfortable way to let your stomach adjust to the changes without completely shocking your system. However, the best advice for how to manage your transition off of the drug is by working closely with your doctor.