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How do ranitidine medications work?

The recall of Zantac and its generic forms has raised serious questions for people across the country regarding how a dangerous human carcinogen like NDMA could end up in them. But, that is not the only question being asked. The Food and Drug Administration also wants to know how the body converts the ranitidine medications into this human carcinogen. Could the answer lie in how the medications work?

Medications containing ranitidine such as Zantac are H2 receptor blockers. These medications prevent the production of acid in the stomach by seeking out acid releasing receptors on the stomach's surface. This chemical reaction can reduce the production of stomach acid by around 70% over the course of a 24-hour period. Could this provide a clue as to why these medications in particular have become so dangerous?

For now, ranitidine is receiving all of the media coverage, but the FDA has also issued warnings regarding another H2 receptor blocker called nizatidine, which is marketed as Axid. As the investigation into medications that could contain NDMA continues, more over-the-counter drugs for acid reflux could end up on the recall list. There are two other generic H2 receptor blockers, famotidine, marketed as Pepcid and Pepcid AC, and cimetidine, marketed as Tagamet and Tagamet HB. No recall has been issued for those.

For now, the focus remains on ranitidine medications. As more people come forward wondering whether there is a connection between this medication and their cancer diagnoses, the companies who manufacture these medications come under increasing scrutiny.

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