The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

That Pill Is Poison

Nov 11, 2019

A popular medicine for heartburn—Zantac and its generic form, ranitidine—is being recalled and investigated in the U.S. and over 40 countries. The origin story of this recall exposes drug purity problems that are widespread.

The first steps of the recall came from lab testing done by a new 14-person on-line pharmacy called Valisure. One of the founders kept having bad reactions to medications. He worried that unsafe ingredients might be in prescription drugs. He found no lab that could verify the chemical contents of drugs, so he and a friend started a lab and pharmacy.

It was scientists at Valisure who found that when stomach acid mixed with ranitidine, an extra chemical, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), thought to cause cancer, was produced.

The FDA did their own testing, and also found unacceptable levels of NDMA, including in a syrup for babies! This chemical is linked to liver damage and to increased risk of colon and uterine cancer. Drug manufacturers did their own testing and found the same problem, too, and the recalls started.

Because of price gouging, the pharmaceutical industry has long been distrusted. Now, lack of purity in medications can be added to the list of problems tied to pharmaceutical companies and their thirst to maximize profit.

This one pharmacy doing testing has found that 10% of medicines have problems. As crazy as this sounds, it turns out that the FDA only does testing before a drug is approved but not after. A former FDA official now recommends that each batch of a drug that is produced needs to be tested.

Didn’t most rational people think THIS was already happening? Just one more example of what an irrational system capitalism is.