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The People's Pharmacy: The return of Zantac for heartburn
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The People’s Pharmacy

The People's Pharmacy: The return of Zantac for heartburn

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QUESTION: Zantac helped my heartburn for years when other medications didn’t. Proton pump inhibitors like omeprazole caused me serious side effects.

I was very disappointed when Zantac was pulled off the market. Frankly, I’d rather be given the choice to continue with the Zantac than wonder what to do for heartburn.

Yesterday in the drugstore I saw a product labeled Zantac 360. Are they bringing it back? What’s the deal?

ANSWER: The Food and Drug Administration requested removal of Zantac (ranitidine) more than a year ago. That’s because tests showed it and generic ranitidine products could contain NDMA (N-nitrosodimethylamine), a probable human carcinogen. According to the FDA, “The agency has determined that the impurity 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.”

Zantac was a popular brand name, originally as a prescription antiulcer medicine. Later it was sold over the counter for heartburn.

The drug company that sold Zantac before the recall is reintroducing the brand as Zantac 360. This nonprescription heartburn medicine now contains a different ingredient, famotidine. It was originally sold under the brand name Pepcid and is now also available OTC as Pepcid AC. There is no NDMA problem with famotidine.

QUESTION: Could you suggest a good blood sugar meter that I could purchase without a prescription? I will turn 65 in November, am normal weight and am trying to watch my sugar. I realize that folks become more susceptible to diabetes when they are older, and diabetes runs in my family. I was hoping to monitor my blood sugar periodically at home. Anything you can suggest would be helpful.

ANSWER: Given your family history, it makes sense to monitor your blood sugar periodically. OTC blood glucose meters are relatively affordable, running from $30 to $60. The strips, however, get pricey. Because you won’t have to test your blood sugar multiple times a day, that should not be a problem.

Consumer Reports has rated several brands as recommended. They include FreeStyle Freedom Lite, True Metrix and Accu-Chek Aviva Plus.

For detecting prediabetes or diabetes, you will want to measure your fasting blood sugar. It may be most convenient to do so first thing in the morning before breakfast. A normal level is 99 mg/dL or below; if your level is 100 to 125 mg/dL, you may have prediabetes and should discuss this with your doctor, who may want to test your hemoglobin A1c, a way of determining blood sugar levels over several weeks rather than just in the moment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fasting blood sugar of 126 mg/dL or above is a red flag for diabetes.

QUESTION: I just read that some sunscreens are being recalled, including Neutrogena Beach Defense and Neutrogena Ultra Sheer. Does this mean that my Neutrogena face moisturizer (SPF 50) might also be contaminated?

ANSWER: The Johnson & Johnson company has recalled five aerosol sunscreens, including Neutrogena brand Beach Defense, Cool Dry Sport, Invisible Daily and Ultra Sheer. Also included is Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen. Your Neutrogena face moisturizer has not been recalled.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. You can email them via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

© 2021 King Features Syndicate Inc.

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