Zantac on shelves

Boy, Do I Miss My Zantac

I usually try to avoid taking medications, prescription or over-the-counter, unless absolutely necessary. I tend to believe, we over-medicate in our culture. Every time I visit our local CVS, it is amazing to consider the number of prescriptions they are dispensing every day to the people in the small geographic area they serve. Not that I don’t consider the advice from doctors I engage, but my definition of a medication being absolutely necessary is that the health issue is serious and won’t go away by itself or the symptoms are severe enough that I am really miserable without treatment. Zantac has been one of those “necessary” medications for me.

I was always the ‘I can eat anything’ guy. I would always try something at least once. When I worked in Asia, my local co-workers and friends would take great delight in finding new, unusual foods for me to try. These dishes often were prepared with enough spice to make you think your whole body was on fire. Fortunately, I had a pretty rock-solid stomach.

This changed when I got into my forties. I became more sensitive to certain foods. There was a local sub shop in Chelmsford, MA that made a meatball sub that was to die for. Unfortunately, over time, my stomach started to seriously object after I enjoyed one. I think this is when I first discovered Zantac. It was awesome. Whenever I had heartburn issues, it would resolve the issue within 30 minutes.

Zantac on shelves

Over the next few years, I found myself having heartburn issues with a wider array of foods. One was anything with chocolate, which anyone who knew me as a child knows was my favorite. I had a stressful job, went through a difficult divorce, and still tended in indulge in more junk food than I should have. Fortunately for me, trusty Zantac was a staple in the medicine cabinet and always did the job.

I met my wife Teresa in 2008. She in an exceptional cook and I have never reacted “badly” to something she has prepared for us. I would still have an occasional issue when we ate out, but I almost never had to take a Zantac. It got to the stage where we had to throw out expired tablets and replace them with new ones.

Back in April, the FDA announced it had found an issue with ranitidine, the active ingredient in Zantac. They found a “contaminant in some ranitidine products increases over time and when stored at higher than room temperatures and may result in consumer exposure to unacceptable levels of this impurity.” In an abundance of caution, they asked manufacturers to stop distributing ranitidine-based products and remove them from the supply chain.

I actually found out about the FDA announcement when I visited our local CVS to restock our medicine chest last April. They had stock still on the shelves, but I decided not to buy any. When Teresa had some recent stomach issues, we went and bought an alternative medication.

Last night, we ordered some take out. Something didn’t agree with me and I woke up at 2 am with pretty bad reflux. Took some of the new “remedy”. Still sitting here at 4 am waiting for it to kick-in.

Boy, do I miss my Zantac…



  1. Seriously, cuz: Tums, or Rolaids, or even Pepto-Bismol (I’m a Tums man, myself): have something like these on the nightstand. Think of it as “In Case of Fire, Break Glass.” Zantac and the other modern alternatives may better meet your maintenance needs, but when the fire bursts forth beneath your sternum, you need something that can douse the conflagration *now*, and good old-fashioned sodium bicarbonate will answer your immediate needs and not leave you sitting up two hours later with a scorched esophagus, updating your blog. I speak as one whose experience with debilitating heartburn goes back over to the eighties. The affliction has abated in latter years, but I always like to pack a supply of these tablets when I travel.

    If ranitidine-based remedies become available again (blessed by regulators or on the black market), perhaps you’ll want to refrigerate your personal stash.

  2. I feel your pain. OTC 20 MG famotidine wasn’t working, so my doctor put me on prescription strength famotidine. It still doesn’t work as well as OTC ranitidine did.

  3. The exact same predicament here. I’ve never missed a drug so much. Sodium bicarbonate doesn’t do anything for my misery when I wake at 2-3 am. The impurity they spoke about though, is an unexpectably high level of nitrosodimethylate. Nitrosos are bad, gives you cancer. Hoping they will find a way to produce it without creating unhealthy biproducts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *