Two cancer patients in South Florida are suing the makers of a popular heartburn medicine after the FDA issued a warning of a cancer-causing chemical in the medication.
Zantac contains N-nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA, which is classified as a probable human carcinogen, according to the alert issued by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
Nancy Lopez, a single mother and a nanny, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and again just last year. Lopez said she has no family history of cancer. She started taking Zantac for acid reflux when she was 15 and now believes there is a link between the medication and cancer.
"I know there are a lot of single moms out there with breast cancer and taking this medication they don't know," she said. "And somebody got to say something and I decided to be the first one."
The first lawsuit in South Florida was filed by Levin Citron Rodal on behalf of Joseph Galimidi, a well-known rabbi in Aventura. He was diagnosed with male breast cancer and also claims the heartburn medication wreaked havoc on his body.
"There are millions of people that take Zantac and ranitidine yearly and they've been exposed to this extremely potent carcinogen," said attorney Yitzhak Levin. "As a result they are potentially able to develop cancer as a result of being exposed."
Lopez also filing a lawsuit, insisting that more needs to be done to alert others of what she believes are the risks associated with the medication.
"This is not about money. This is about saving people," Lopez said. "If I can save one, everything is gonna be worth it for me. It doesn't matter what I've been through. That's not a problem. I just don't want other people to go through what I went through."
Sanofi, the makers of Zantac, released a statement about the FDA alert, saying in part, "Sanofi takes patient safety seriously, and we are committed to working with the FDA. Zantac OTC (over the counter) has been around for over a decade and meets all the specified safety requirements for use in the OTC market."
The FDA is not calling for consumers to stop taking the drug but encourages people who want to discontinue taking the medicine to talk to a health care professional.