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Zantac: CVS latest for stopping acid drug in cancer fears



  Zantac Packages and Pills, September 19, 2019, New York. Copyright
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The American distributor CVS has become the latest to discontinue the sale of an acid drug investigated for links to cancer.

There is concern in several countries about the presence of impurities in Zantac and other ranitidine products.

Canada and France have already announced recalled Zantac. The US and the European Union are investigating.

Health authorities say there is no immediate risk, but patients are advised to consult a doctor who may prescribe alternatives to ranitidine.

What is he afraid of? On September 1
3, both the FDA and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced their decisions to review the presence of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in drugs containing ranitidine.

NDMA is classified as a probable human carcinogen (substance that can cause cancer) based on animal studies.

NDMA is found in water and food, including meat, dairy and vegetables, but is not expected to cause very low levels of ingestion, EMA says.

Ranitidine products are used to reduce gastric acid production in patients with conditions such as acids and gastric ulcers.

These are available over the counter and on prescription.

Who has recalled the products so far?

A CVS announcement on Saturday said it was suspending the sale of Zantac and CVS Health ranitidine products "out of abundance".

"Zantac and CVS products have not been downloaded and the FDA does not recommend patients stop taking ranitidine at this time," the company said.

Walgreens, Walmart and Rite Aid in the United States had previously made a similar decision.

Canada and France remove drugs from drugstore shelves. A number of other countries have followed this.

Bangladesh on Sunday issued a temporary ban on the import, production and sale of ranitidine as it examines cancer links.

Drug manufacturers also recall products containing NDMA.

Sandoz, owned by Novartis, told the BBC that he recalled "several batches of his ranitidine containing medicines". The downloads were "underway or forthcoming" in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Macedonia, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.

Apotex also stated that it recalled ranitidine tablets in the United States.

The BBC turned to GlaxoSmithKline – original Zantac manufacturers. The company is reported to have stopped distributing its generic version of the drug and has recalled its products from India and Hong Kong.

What should patients do?

Health regulators urge people taking ranitidine not to stop it immediately. [19659005] However, the FDA said that those taking it on prescription should contact health professionals about alternatives. And those who buy it without a prescription might consider other options.

The French authorities also emphasize that there is no "acute risk" and patients should not discontinue medication or return it to pharmacies.


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