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KENYA:Heartburn medicine found to contain cancer-linked chemical

October 2019 Daily nation;The government has urged the public to stop taking antacid Ranitidine, sold in Kenya as Zantac or Neotack, to relieve heartburn.

The Pharmacy and Poisons Board withdrew the antacid from the market after it was linked to cancer in the US.

Last week, the board issued a directive to pharmacies across the country to retrieve and quarantine all Ranitidine products sold in the Kenyan market. Some wholesalers have written to their clients to return all products purchased.

DRUG RECALL

In order to safeguard the health of Kenyans, you are instructed to carry out a level two recall of all ranitidine products from the Kenan market.

“In addition, you are required to submit to the board the details of all the products that you have imported into the country in the last three years,” the board’s chief executive Dr Fred Siyoi said in a circular.

On September 13, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had learned that some ranitidine medications, including those known by the brand name Zantac, contain low levels of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), an impurity that could cause cancer. NDMA is a possible cancer-causing chemical linked to liver damage.

This week, the drug companies Novartis (through its generic division, Sandoz) and Apotex announced that they were recalling all of their generic ranitidine products sold in the US.

These announcements came after

a Connecticut-based online pharmacy informed the FDA that it had detected NDMA in multiple ranitidine products under certain test conditions.

The nitrosamine impurity known as NDMA, has been classified as a probable human carcinogen based on lab tests, and this isn’t the first time that it has been detected in a common medication.

CANCER RISK

Since last year, the FDA has been investigating NDMA and other impurities in blood pressure and heart failure medicines known as angiotensin receptor blockers or ARBs. Numerous recalls have been launched as the FDA found “unacceptable levels” of nitrosamines in several of those common drugs containing valsartan.

A study published last year in the medical journal BMJ found no “markedly increased short term overall risk of cancer” among users of the valsartan drugs contaminated with NDMA. Yet that study also noted that research into long-term cancer risk is needed, CNN reports.

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