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Health Canada requests that companies stop distributing ranitidine drugs in Canada while it assesses NDMA; some products being recalled

**** Health Canada Release

Health Canada requests that companies stop distributing ranitidine drugs in Canada while it assesses NDMA; some products being recalled

Health Canada recently informed Canadians that it is assessing the issue of an impurity called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) detected in some ranitidine drugs. Current evidence suggests that NDMA may be present in ranitidine, regardless of the manufacturer. As a result, and at Health Canada’s request, companies marketing ranitidine products in Canada have stopped any further distribution until evidence is provided to demonstrate that they do not contain NDMA above acceptable levels.

This is an interim, precautionary measure as Health Canada continues to gather information from companies and to assess the issue with other international regulators.

One company, Sandoz Canada, is recalling its oral prescription products in Canada and other countries after testing identified levels of NDMA above what is considered acceptable if the drug were to be taken over a lifetime. Should any additional recalls be deemed necessary, Health Canada will update the table below and inform Canadians.

The request to stop distribution means that the existing stock of ranitidine products currently available in pharmacies or at retail stores may continue to be sold. This is different from a recall, since products that are being recalled can no longer be sold.

Ranitidine is available in Canada over-the-counter (for example, under the brand name Zantac and as generics) and by prescription (as generics). Over-the-counter ranitidine is approved to prevent and relieve heartburn associated with acid indigestion and sour stomach. Prescription ranitidine drugs are used to reduce stomach acid for the treatment and prevention of various conditions, such as heartburn, ulcers of the stomach and intestines, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (commonly known as GERD).

NDMA is classified as a probable human carcinogen, which means long-term exposure to levels above what is considered safe could increase the risk of cancer. We are all exposed to low levels of NDMA in some foods (such as meats, dairy products and vegetables) and in drinking water. NDMA is not expected to cause harm when ingested at very low levels.

Health Canada continues to gather and share information with other regulators, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency, and with Canadian companies to better understand the issue and whether there may be a risk to Canadians. This includes conducting its own tests and assessing whether the results seen in laboratory tests present a human health risk. The Department will take action if a risk to Canadians is identified, and will continue to inform the public of new safety information.

Health Canada has been working to address the issue of NDMA and similar impurities, known as nitrosamines, found in certain “sartan” angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) blood pressure medications since 2018. Health Canada continues to work closely with international regulatory partners to address the issue. This includes broadening its efforts to evaluate the potential for nitrosamines in drugs other than sartans and measures to address and prevent the impurities.

Affected products

Companies have agreed with Health Canada’s precautionary request to stop distributing all ranitidine drugs in Canada. A complete list of ranitidine products marketed in Canada is available by searching Health Canada’s Drug Product Database.

The following is a list of products being recalled in Canada at this time:
Company Product  Name/Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) DIN Strength Lot
Sandoz Canada Sandoz Ranitidine 02243229 150 mg All lots
Sandoz Canada Sandoz Ranitidine 02243230 300 mg All lots

What consumers should do

  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist at your earliest convenience about alternative, non-ranitidine treatment options appropriate for your health circumstances. There are many prescription and over-the-counter drug alternatives in Canada that are authorized for the same or similar uses as ranitidine.
  • Individuals taking a prescription ranitidine drug, including a recalled product, should not stop taking it unless they have spoken to their health care provider and obtained alternative treatment, as the risk of not treating the condition may be greater than the risk related to NDMA exposure.
  • Contact your health care provider if you have taken a ranitidine product and you have concerns about your health.
  • Contact Sandoz Canada at 1-800-361-3062 if you have questions about its recall.
  • Report any health product adverse events or complaints to Health Canada.

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