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Tainted Drugs: Are Our Prescriptions Safe?

The AARP Bulletin recently interviewed Ali Rezaie, MD, medical director of GI Motility at Cedars-Sinai, about what patients should do if their medications are recalled.

As AARP Bulletin explains, tainted drugs have made headlines in recent months. More than a thousand lots of generic ARBs (angiotensin II receptor blockers, used to treat heart failure and high blood pressure) from roughly two dozen drug manufacturers were recalled between July 2018 and mid-October 2019 after unsafe levels of probable carcinogen NDMA — as well as another probable carcinogen and a third potential carcinogen — were discovered in FDA tests.

Prescription and over the counter heartburn and reflux medications Zantac and its generic ranitidine – both classified as H2 blockers – have also been recalled by some drugmakers and pulled from drugstore shelves after tests found low levels of NDMA in many of these products. In late October five more makers of ranitidine announced voluntary recalls.

In the article, patients are given tangible steps to take, including how to check for a drug recall on the FDA website and how to properly dispose of a recalled drug. 

And Rezaie suggests that before patients throw away a recalled drug, they should first consult with a physician or pharmacist. In the case of Zantac, Rezaie says “consumers can easily switch from ranitidine or Zantac to another H2 blocker, but it’s good to know that we usually recommend famotidine (Pepcid) and nizatidine (Axid) over cimetidine (brand name Tagamet).”

He adds that “cimetidine is the oldest H2 blocker. It has the most potential drug interactions and side effects include impotency and gynecomastia — enlarged breast tissue — for men.”

Click here to read the complete article from the AARP Bulletin.

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Heartburn and Acid Reflux: What You Need to Know