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Heartburn medicine Zantac being recalled in Pakistan over cancer concerns

September 30, 2019
Heartburn medicine Zantac being recalled in Pakistan over cancer concerns

Photo: AFP

Zantac, a heartburn medicine that the FDA said contains a cancer-causing chemical, has been banned across Pakistan.

The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan has stopped pharmaceutical companies from producing and selling Zantac, said its head Dr Asim Rauf on Saturday.

He added that DRAP was working with international bodies to improve the monitoring and evaluation of ranitidine, the chemical name for Zantac.

The regulatory authority had begun investigating ranitidine after the US Food and Drug Administration announced that it contained traces of cancer-causing contaminant NMDA, said Dr Rauf.

On September 13, the American drug regulator had warned patients that ranitidine had been found to contain “low levels” of the cancer-causing impurity N-nitrosodimethylamine or NDMA. “NDMA is a known environmental contaminant and is found in water and foods, including meats, dairy products, and vegetables,” the FDA added.

The patients have been advised to consult their doctors for medicine’s alternatives.

Recently, pharmaceutical retailers across the US have stopped marketing and selling Zantac and other ranitidine products. Canada and France have issued total recalls of the drug.

Research on the chemical

A study by the Arizona State University in 2018 that reviewed human exposure to N-nitrosamine said the chemical is found in tobacco, food, water, and personal care products.

It also stated that more than 6,000 cases of cancer per one million people in the US can be directly attributed to nitrosamines.

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