Drugstores are pulling Zantac, generic version off the shelves
CVS pulled Zantac and its own generic form of the popular heartburn medication from its shelves this weekend over concerns that the products may contain small levels of nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a possible cancer-causing chemical linked to liver damage. CVS, the largest pharmacy chain in the country, said Saturday it was suspending sales “out of an abundance of caution.”
The decision by the pharmacy giant adds to a flurry of worldwide concern about the drug. Major manufacturers of the generic form, ranitidine, have announced recalls, and other countries have requested that companies halt distribution of the drug or issued recalls. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been investigating the possible risk to patients, as well.
The FDA has stopped short of calling for people to stop taking the drug but has advised patients to talk to their doctors about taking an alternative prescription to ranitidine, an anti-heartburn medication that’s commonly used in prescription and over-the-counter medicines to treat issues such as ulcers and acid reflux.
Exposure to low levels of NDMA does not pose an acute risk to patients. The chemical is classified as a probable carcinogen and is present in the environment and in food, such as grilled meat.
Sandoz, a division of Novartis, halted distribution of ranitidine in mid-September and announced it was recalling lots after the impurity was detected above acceptable levels last week.
The FDA has asked companies to test the levels of NDMA in their drugs.