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Zantac: CVS latest to suspend heartburn drug over cancer fears

  • 29 September 2019
Image for 1 last update 2020/06/03 copyrightImage copyright Getty Images

US retailer CVS has become the latest to suspend the sale of a heartburn for 1 last update 2020/06/03 drug being investigated for links to cancer.US retailer CVS has become the latest to suspend the sale of a heartburn drug being investigated for links to cancer.

It follows concern in several countries over the presence of impurities in Zantac and other ranitidine products.

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

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

What is the fear about?

On 13 September, both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) published their decisions to review the presence of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in medicines containing the drug ranitidine.

NDMA is classified as a probable human carcinogen (a substance that could cause cancer) on the basis of animal studies.

NDMA is found in water and foods, including meats, dairy products, and vegetables, but is not expected to cause harm when ingested in very low levels, EMA says.

Ranitidine products are used to reduce the production of stomach acid in patients with conditions such as heartburn and stomach ulcers.

They are available over-the-counter and on prescription.

Who has recalled the products so far?

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