Zantac in global recall over ‘unacceptable’ levels of potential carcinogen

Heartburn medicine pulled by GlaxoSmithKline while it investigates source of impurity

GlaxoSmithKline is recalling the popular heartburn medicine Zantac in all markets, days after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found unacceptable levels of probable cancer-causing impurity in the drug.

Zantac, also sold generically as ranitidine, is the latest drug in which cancer-causing impurities have been found. Regulators have been recalling some blood pressure and heart failure medicines since last year.

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Britains medicines watchdog said GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) was recalling four prescription-only Zantac medicines a syrup, an injection and tablets of 150mg and 300mg dosages over an potential carcinogen called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA)

Over-the-counter 75mg dosage Zantac products are produced by a different company and are not affected by the recall, it added.

GSK informed the MHRA [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency] of our decision to suspend the release, distribution and supply of all dose forms of Zantac products, a company spokesman confirmed to Reuters.

GSK was continuing with investigations into the potential source of the NDMA, he said.

The impurity was believed to have been introduced by changes in the manufacturing process.

The MHRA said healthcare professionals were told on Monday to stop supplying the products immediately, quarantine all remaining stock and return it to their supplier.

We are advising that patients should not stop taking their medication, and do not need to see their doctor until their next routine appointment but should seek their doctors advice if they have any concerns, the MHRA said.

US and European health regulators said last month they were reviewing the safety of ranitidine, after online pharmacy Valisure flagged the impurities.

The FDA said Valisures higher-temperature testing method generated very high levels of NDMA from the ranitidine drugs.

NDMA had previously been found in some blood pressure medicines from a class of drugs known as angiotensin II receptor blockers, or ARBs.

The US regulator has asked ranitidine makers to conduct their own testing to assess levels of the impurity and to send samples of their products for testing by the agency.
Swiss drugmaker Novartis halted global distribution of its ranitidine drugs last month.

Last week, Walmart joined pharmacy chains CVS Health Corp, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc and Rite Aid Corp in suspending the sale of over-the-counter heartburn drugs containing ranitidine.

Canadas health authorities have asked makers of the drugs to halt distribution as they gather more information. Last month, regulators in Hong Kong pulled four products, while in Ireland 13 products containing ranitidine were recalled.

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