If You’re Pregnant With Heartburn, Don’t Reach for Zantac

Pharmacies are pulling it from shelves after low levels of cancer-causing contaminants were found in samples.
ByLaurie Ulster
Contributing Writer
Oct 2019
hand holding heartburn medicine zantac
Photo: Shutterstock

Heartburn frequently goes hand-in-hand with pregnancy, and over-the-counter medications like Zantac are generally considered safe to help ease discomfort. But as of this week, you may want to take that drug—and its generic versions—off your shopping list.

Major pharmacies are pulling Zantac and its generic versions from store shelves after the FDA detected low levels of a cancer-causing contaminant in samples of the drug called nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which is a type of nitrosamine, according to The New York Times. Low levels of nitrosamines can also be found in foods like fish, metas, beer and fried foods.

The amount of detected NDMA was very small, but the FDA is investigating the matter further, as is Sanofi, the company that makes Zantac. While the medication has not been officially recalled, pharmacy retailers like Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS are halting sales and are offering refunds to customers who bought it before the news hit. Three pharmaceutical companies who make generic versions of Zantac—Apotex, Sandoz and GlaxoSmithKline—have decided to recall their versions of the product.

The FDA is recommending that people talk to their doctors and consider switching to a different type of medication for now.

Heartburn often starts early in pregnancy but can get worse in the final months. Some foods are known to trigger it, like spicy food, tomato sauce, fried foods and coffee. Luckily, there are other over-the-counter medicines that help ease discomfort, like Tums and Rolaids, which are considered safe for pregnant women. As always, if you have any questions, check with your doctor or pharmacist before buying any heartburn medicine.

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