CVS stops selling OTC heartburn drug Zantac over cancer fears

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by Dr. Eowyn

Already, it is inadvisable to take Prilosec and Nexium, both prescription meds, for acid-reflux or heartburn because the FDA found a suspected link between the two drugs and cardiac trouble. Prilosec and Nexium can also raise your risk of pneumonia, bone loss, and bone fracture. See “8 drugs doctors won’t take“.

Now, it appears that Zantac, an over-the-counter drug for heartburn, is also inadvisable.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted a warning on Sept. 13, 2019 that the “FDA has learned that some ranitidine medicines, including some products commonly known as the brand-name drug Zantac, contain anitrosamine impurity called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) at low levels. NDMA is classified as a probable human carcinogen (a substance that could cause cancer) based on results from laboratory tests. NDMA is a known environmental contaminant and found in water and foods, including meats, dairy products, and vegetables.”

Although the FDA is not calling for individuals to stop taking Zantac at this time, the agency nevertheless recommends people taking OTC ranitidine, including Zantac, to “consider using other OTC medicines approved for their condition.”

That led CVS drug stores to take Zantac off their shelves.

The BBC reports that on Sept. 28, 2019, CVS announced it was suspending the sale of Zantac and CVS Health brand ranitidine products “out of an abundance of caution”.

CVS is only the latest to suspend the sale of Zantac. Walgreens, Walmart and Rite Aid in the US had earlier taken a similar decision. Canada and France have already announced Zantac recalls. The US (FDA) and the European Union are investigating.

Drug makers are also recalling products containing the carcinogen NDMA:

  • Sandoz, owned by Novartis, is recalling several batches of its ranitidine-containing medicines.
  • Apotex is also recalling ranitidine tablets in the US.
  • Recalls are also under way or pending in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, North Macedonia, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and the US.





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