US drug chain CVS Health Corp (NYSE:CVS) stopped selling heartburn drug Zantac and the generic versions of the medicine over cancer concerns. The pharmacy chain said over the weekend that it will suspend the sale of Zantac and the ranitidine products for now.
Zantac and ranitidine products contain cancer-causing carcinogen
This comes after the FDA indicated that some of the ranitidine products had impurities that can cause cancer. The drugs had low levels of NDMA, a human carcinogen that is dangerous to humans. The company, in a statement to customers, said that those who bought the drugs from the retailer could take them back to get a refund. The company said that customers should come with the CVS receipt for them to get a refund.
NDMA, which is a short form of N-nitrosodimethylamine us a carcinogen that from animal studies has proven to cause liver, lung, and kidney tumors. Rats and mice exposed to NDAM for long periods have been found to have liver tumors. Chronic exposure to NDMA in humans can result in liver damage.
FDA investigating contamination of drugs with NDMA
The FDA since last year has been probing NDMA in heart failure and blood pressure drugs called angiotensin receptor blockers. There have been several recalls of the medicines after the FDA found high levels of nitrosamines in many of the common drugs that contain Valsartan. The drug regulatory agency is probing the source of contamination and risks NDMA poses to patients. It has recommended that patients should talk to doctors on the alternative version of the medicine.
CVS is not the only chain that has recalled the drug. Others who have followed suit include Walgreens (NASDAQ:WBA) and Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD). In a statement, a spokesman of Walgreens said that they pulled Zantac from their shelves as they wait for review of the drug from the FDA. Rite Aid indicates that they are in the process of doing away with Zantac and all generic versions sold under their name from the shelves.