CVS Health Corp (NYSE: $CVS ) Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (NASDAQ: $WBA ) Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE: $RAD ) Stop Heartburn Drug Sales Over Cancer Links

Sector Reports > Latest News > ASX > CVS Health Corp (NYSE: $CVS ) Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (NASDAQ: $WBA ) Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE: $RAD ) Stop Heartburn Drug Sales Over Cancer Links

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CVS Health Corp (NYSE: CVS), Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (NASDAQ: WBA) and Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE: RAD) had mixed fortunes in the market. This is after announcing they will no longer sell a heartburn medication suspected of containing a cancer-causing substance. Zantac is the heartburn medication on the spotlight on the Food and Drug Administration, raising the red flag.

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Zantac Cancer Links

The FDA in a press release has warned that the drug could contain low levels of nitrosamine, an impurity categorized as a human carcinogen. CVS Health stock was up 1.59% while Walgreens stock rallied 1.65% and Rite Aid plunged 4.53% after announcing the withdrawal of Zantac from shelves.

Rite Aid has confirmed it is in the process of removing the drug from its shelves as well as other generic version sold under its brand name. Walgreens and CVS have since confirmed that customers would purchase Zantac can return the medication for a refund. However, the companies insist the FDA has not recalled the drug.

Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) is another pharmaceutical company dragged into the ranitidine standoff. The company has also stopped selling a prescription form of ranitidine as it awaits the FDA’s ongoing investigation. GlaxoSmithKline plc. (NYSE: GSK) has also stopped the distribution of a generic version of the drug

Sanofi SA (NASDAQ: SNY), which is the company behind Zantac, was up 0.15% even as the giant pharmaceutical companies announced they would no longer sell the drug. The drugmaker, in its defense, maintains that the levels of contaminants found by the FDA barely exceed the levels found in foods.

The environmental contaminant is mostly found in water and foods as well as meats and dairy products. In high levels, the contaminant can trigger tumors in the liver as well as other organs. In humans, they can lead to cancer.

FDA Ranitidine And Zantac Probe

The FDA is currently investigating a number of ranitidine drugs as well as Zantac on concerns that they contain high levels of nitrosamine impurity that can trigger cancer cells in the human body. The agency is also investigating the possible cause of contamination as well as the potential risk of the impurity to patients.

However, the agency is yet to issue an order prohibiting the sale of Zantac drug. Sales suspension by the pharmaceutical giants is thus a precautionary measure awaiting the outcome of the ongoing trials by the agency.

“The FDA is not calling for individuals to stop taking ranitidine at this time; however, patients taking prescription ranitidine who wish to discontinue use should talk to their health care professional about other treatment options,” FDA in a statement.

Instead of taking Zantac and other OTC ranitidine, the FDC is urging people to take other OTC approved medicines for their conditions.

The European Medicines Agency has already joined the FDA in reviewing the drug. Canada, on its part, has stopped the sale of all ranitidine drugs awaiting the ongoing investigations.

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