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Zantac and Alcohol Don't Mix


When asked for objective commentary, Patrick Waring, MD, professor of medicine at Emory University and co-director of Emory's Swallowing Center, tells WebMD, "We've always thought there was some interaction, but didn't think it was to the point that you would choose one drug over the other."

Better medications are available to treat gastrointestinal problems, says Waring. "Frankly, I don't prescribe a lot of ranitidine. ... More and more people are using the proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec, Prevacid, and AcipHex, and I don't think there are significant problems with alcohol use with those medications. When we talk to people about their [gastrointestinal] problem, their ulcer or reflux, we tell them that alcohol can aggravate their medical problem. If they are taking ranitidine for these symptoms, they shouldn't be drinking for that reason."

Arnold Wald, MD, gastroenterologist with University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, tells WebMD, "I thought [the study] was done very well. ... It's a very good lab. Charles Lieber is well known for alcohol research. ... But at the risk of being flip, I think you shouldn't drink four drinks and drive, whether you're taking ranitidine or not."

Vital Information:

  • Researchers report that subjects who took a common antacid and consumed alcohol in a simulated social drinking situation had a 38% higher blood alcohol level than would be expected from drinking.
  • The researchers note those who take this antacid and drink moderately should know they are impaired more than they may realize and should not drive.
  • Observers note moderate drinkers probably should not be driving anyway. Also, newer antacid options mean fewer patients take the antacid that was used in the study.
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