Consumers cautioned over use of Zantac and its generic counterparts

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Ranitidine is suspected cancer-causing ingredient

Walmart announced Wednesday that it is halting sales of the popular heartburn treatment Zantac after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned about a potentially dangerous cancer-causing ingredient in the drug.

“Walmart Inc. is suspending the sale of all over the counter ranitidine products in stores, clubs and online, including Zantac, Equate and Member’s Mark brands,” said Erin Hulliberger, Walmart media liasion “The company is taking this action after closely monitoring the recent Product Alert from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that ranitidine products may contain a low level of nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).”

Suspected drugs sold over the counter, or without a prescription, include Zantac's active ingredient, ranitidine, which may contain low levels of the potential human carcinogen NDMA. Aside from Zantac, that includes Walmart's Equate and Sam's Clubs Member's Mark brands.

Zantac and its related generic drugs are used to treat ulcers and acid reflux disease. The same chemical has been detected in generic blood-pressure pills, sparking a recall of millions of pills in about 30 countries.

The drugstore chains CVS Health, Walgreens and Rite Aid have already pulled Zantac products from their shelves.

Customers can return the drugs, including medicine sold under the Equate and Member’s Mark brands, to its Walmart and Sam’s Club stores for a refund.

The FDA has also advised consumers who take ranitidine medications for heartburn and other stomach ailments to consider alternative therapies while the agency investigates the contamination.

Some versions of Zantac have been recalled in the U.S. by manufacturers. Canadian generic-drug maker Apotex Inc. recalled ranitidine that it made for Walmart, Rite Aid and Walgreens last month. Novartis recalled generic prescription ranitidine in the U.S. after detecting elevated NDMA levels.

Customers who take Zantac can obtain the medication locally from Bruner's Pharmacy, located at 321 E Broadway St., and Price Cutter Pharmacy, located at 2150 E Cleveland Ave., whose representatives cited their stock is not part of the impacted lots.

“We are currently told by our wholesalers that our medications are not impacted,” said Ira McCracken, manager of Price Cutter Pharmacy. “We don't deal with some of the generic products that are manufactured.”

Additional details on NDMA in ranitidine are available through the FDA.

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