In the past year we have heard how a certain blood pressure medication was tainted with N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). NDMA is classified as a probably human carcinogen or cancer causing agent.
Sadly and alarmingly yet another medication, generic Zantac or ranitidine has also been shown to have this contaminant. This finding was announced last month in a statement by Dr. Janet Woodcock, the Director of Drug Evaluation and Research. Unbelievably in regards to the blood pressure medication in question, the Food and Drug Administration has yet to recall this medication and is advising everyone to remain on this drug with a known probable carcinogen tainting it!
This all begs the questions – How many of our generic medications that millions of people take everyday for years on end could be contaminated with NDMA?
I first learned about this latest development when reading a blog article by Suzy Cohen, a well regarded pharmacist. In the article Ms. Cohen states, “Exposure to NDMA is thought to raise risk for cancer, but like all carcinogens, it is dependent on the amount of exposure and the length of time exposed. Part of how this compound hurts a person is by rendering inactive 2 powerful antioxidant ‘cleansing’ enzymes in the liver. The first one being CATALASE, and the second one being GLUTATHIONE. These 2 enzymes are used to neutralize poisons in the body that you make during cellular metabolism, or that you inhale or ingest. These liver enzymes can help you clean up harmful heavy metals like mercury.”
Now glutathione is the body’s most important and powerful antioxidant and is very necessary for liver detoxification. Many people either lack adequate amounts of glutathione for various reasons including the pervasive exposure to toxins in our air, food and water. Another culprit for some is having a gene mutation making it difficult for them to produce adequate glutathione. In either case, adding fuel to the fire by being exposed to NDMA in many people’s medications and not taking immediate action to correct it is incomprehensible in my opinion.
If you would like to read Suzy Cohen’s full article, CLICK HERE.
So what is one to do if you are currently on generic Zantac or other generics? Consider the following:
- Switch to a name-brand drug (this however is not affordable for most people)
- Work with a Functional Medicine practitioner like myself or others to explore natural alternatives
- Get to the root cause of what is causing your symptoms, so you can quit masking the symptoms with medications
- Take a hard and honest look at what lifestyle factors you can work on changing including stress, diet, physical activity, and adequate sleep
- Consult your health practitioner and discuss your options
There is certainly a time and place for medications and they are necessary for many. Never stop a medication without first talking to your healthcare provider. Given the current climate of what is going on in the pharmaceutical industry between rising cost, tainted medications, and supply issues it is important that we all stay informed as consumers as our health and livelihood may well depend on it. This is why I always say, get to the root cause. Ask not what can I take for x,y or z symptoms. Instead ask why do I have this symptom or condition and how do I begin to reverse it?
We are in a crisis when it comes to the manufacturing and supply of safe medications in the United States. There have been many instances in the past several years where certain drugs have been in short supply. Why? One of the reasons this is occurring may be found in a book called China Rx.
In her book, China Rx by Rosemary Gibson, she states the following, “Millions of Americans are taking prescription drugs made in China and don’t know it–and pharmaceutical companies are not eager to tell them. This is a disturbing, well-researched wake-up call for improving the current system of drug supply and manufacturing.Several decades ago, penicillin, vitamin C, and many other prescription and over-the-counter products were manufactured in the United States. But with the rise of globalization, antibiotics, antidepressants, birth control pills, blood pressure medicines, cancer drugs, among many others are made in China and sold in the United States. China’s biggest impact on the US drug supply is making essential ingredients for thousands of medicines found in American homes and used in hospital intensive care units and operating rooms. There are at least two major problems with this scenario. First, it is inherently risky for the United States to become dependent on any one country as a source for vital medicines, especially given the uncertainties of geopolitics. For example, if an altercation in the South China Sea causes military personnel to be wounded, doctors may rely upon medicines with essential ingredients made by the adversary. Second, lapses in safety standards and quality control in Chinese manufacturing are a risk. Citing the concerns of FDA officials and insiders within the pharmaceutical industry, the authors document incidents of illness and death caused by contaminated medications that prompted reform. This probing book examines the implications of our reliance on China on the quality and availability of vital medicines.”
You or someone you know has certainly been affected by what is happening in the pharmaceutical industry. The saddest cases are the ones you hear of people dying because they could not afford their medication and went without it and rationing it due to cost. One also has to wonder how many people have been adversely affected by tainted medications.