Walmart, CVS, Walgreens pull Zantac

Retail giant Walmart has also decided to remove the Zantac heartburn drug from its US stores after a potentially dangerous impurity in the product has been discovered.

Walmart noted that the measure involved all drugs containing ranitidine, the active ingredient in Zantac, available over the counter or on prescription.

In Canada, ranitidine is also available over-the-counter and prescription.

Health Canada recently warned, on its website, that an impurity, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), has been detected in some medicines containing ranitidine. The federal agency added that NDMA is classified as a possible carcinogen for humans, which means that long-term exposure to levels beyond those deemed safe could increase the risk of cancer.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency are also following the issue closely.

CVS Health, Walgreens and Rite Aid had previously decided to stop selling products containing ranitidine in the United States.

Anyone looking for other treatment options should talk to their doctor or pharmacist. People taking prescription ranitidine should not stop taking it unless they have discussed other treatments with their health care provider. The risks associated with an untreated disease may be more serious than those associated with exposure to NDMA,” the FDA said.

The agency recalls that “we are all exposed to low levels of NDMA, found in certain foods [such as meats, dairy products and vegetables] and in drinking water. NDMA is not expected to have adverse effects if swallowed at very low concentrations.”

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