You may have heard the term NDMA in the news. A few drugs over the course of the past couple of years, including Valsartan and Zantac, have been recalled because they contained higher than acceptable levels of NDMA. But what is NDMA, and should you be concerned about it?
What is NDMA?
NDMA or N-nitrosodimethylamine is an organic compound found in both industrial and natural processes. It has been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a probable human carcinogen, meaning it is a cancer-causing chemical. NDMA can occur in drinking water through the degradation of dimethylhydrazine (a component of rocket fuel) and can be a disinfection by-product of chlorination. This process led to NDMA being found in Valsartan.
NDMA can also be produced through natural processes. Testing of ranitidine, the active ingredient in heartburn drugs such as Zantac, has revealed that the ingredient has a molecular structure that makes it susceptible to creating this substance naturally once it is ingested. Tests simulated the conditions of the human stomach that ranitidine would be exposed to and found that when the ingredient reacted with gastric fluids and sodium nitrite, it produced high levels of NDMA.
Should I be Concerned About NDMA?
The presence of this substance in drugs and other products should be of great concern to the public. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified NDMA as a B2 carcinogen. There is enough animal testing to conclude that it probably causes cancer. Exposure to the substance can lead to cancers such as esophageal cancer, prostate cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, leukemia, pancreatic cancer, and others. Even low-level exposure to NDMA can cause liver damage.
What Should I do if I Take a Medication Containing NDMA?
The FDA is not currently calling for individuals to stop taking all forms of Zantac and other medications. However, it is probably best if you consult with your doctor about your options, especially if you have been taking these drugs on a long-term basis. If you’ve been using these drugs for a while and you have developed cancer, you may want to consult with an experienced product liability attorney to explore your options.
Gregg Goldfarb has been helping the victims of dangerous products for over 20 years. Contact us online or call us at 305-374-7000 to schedule a free consultation.