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FDA withdrawal of Zantac affects military health beneficiaries

Image of pharmacist counting out medication Airman Michael Mendenhall, counts prescribed medication, Feb. 5, 2020, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Azaria E. Foster)

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The Food and Drug Administration advised a withdrawal of all over-the-counter and prescription ranitidine April 1, 2020. The drug, often referred to by its brand name, Zantac, is most commonly used to treat heartburn, stomach ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and other conditions related to stomach acid levels.

Consumers taking prescription ranitidine should talk to their doctor before stopping the medication. Anyone taking over-the-counter ranitidine products should immediately stop taking the drug and dispose of all supplies safely, according to FDA guidelines.

The FDA is removing ranitidine products from the market because the agency determined that the impurity in some ranitidine products increases over time when stored at higher than room temperatures and may result in consumer exposure to unacceptable levels of this impurity. For an alternative to this medication, please consult your health care provider.

How to safely dispose of medications

Due to COVID-19 concerns, the FDA recommends consumers dispose of unused medications safely at home instead of going out to a drug take-back location. Use the following procedure to dispose of a medication at home:

  • Mix pills or liquids with an unappealing substance, such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds; do not crush pills.
  • Place the mixture in a container, such as a sealable plastic bag.
  • Throw the container away in your trash at home.
  • Remove all personal information on the prescription labels of empty medication bottles or packaging, then throw them away or recycle them.

Patients should report any adverse reactions from using the drug to their health care provider. The FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program can also be used by taking the following steps:

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