CVS Health Corp (NYSE:CVS) Suspends Sale of Zantac Over Cancer Concerns

Duncan Oleinic - October 1, 2019

CVS Health Corp (NYSE:CVS) has announced that will no longer sell heartburn drug Zantac which the FDA is investigating for links to cancer. The company announced on Saturday that it was suspending over-the-counter sales of the drug as a caution.

Zantac could have cancer casing carcinogen

The move comes after concerns from several countries about the possibility of the drug and other ranitidine products having impurities. France and Canada already have recalled Zantac, and the US and EU are probing the same.

Health Authorities have indicated that currently, there are no direct risks but have advised patients to consult Physicians to prescribe different drugs to ranitidine. CVS has indicated that it is not advising patients to stop taking Zantac. However, they have asked customers who purchased the medicines from them to take them back for a refund.

The US FDA and the EMA, on September 13 issued a notice to analyze the availability of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in ranitidine drugs. NDMA is cancer-causing carcinogen according to animal studies. The FDA established that the chemicals found in the medicines could cause cancer, but the quantity in Zantac was less the same as that found in foods.

Recalling ranitidine medicines

In a statement, the company indicated that Zantac products, as well as CVS brand ranitidine, are not in line for a recall. The company said that the FDA has not recommended that people should stop taking the drug for now. The company has indicated that it will continue selling other heartburn drugs such as Tagamet and Pepcid as well as their equivalents.

Earlier Walmart (NYSE: WMT), Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD) and Walgreens (NASDAQ: WBA) had made the same move to suspend selling for the drugs. On Sunday, Bangladesh issued a ban on production, sale, and import of ranitidine as they probe the cancer links. Apotex has also indicated that it recalls its ranitidine tablets.

At the beginning of this month, Sandoz which is a unit of Novartis (NYSE:\NVS) stopped distribution of its generic version. The recalls are already underway in the US, Australia, and the EU.

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Duncan Oleinic

Duncan Oleinic is from New Yourk. After graduating with a degree in physics, he began his career as an analyst in a broking firm. Through this experience he was able to advance to the role of correspondent for a U.S based financial news provider, where he worked from 2001 to 2007. He subsequently joined a merchant banking firm as a financial analyst focused on valuing unlisted companies in the sub-continent. Over the course of his two years here, he performed valuations of several media companies which were later acquired by peers.

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