Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 15 October 2019

UAE bans drug linked to stomach cancer from sale

Health ministry takes action amid global recall on some brand-name stomach-acid medicine

There has been a global recall of products, including a suspension on the distribution of Zantac, produced by Swiss drug manufacturer Novartis. Drew Angerer / Getty Images
There has been a global recall of products, including a suspension on the distribution of Zantac, produced by Swiss drug manufacturer Novartis. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Stomach-acid medicine suspected of having been contaminated with a cancer-causing agent have been taken off pharmacy shelves in the UAE.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention released information for those taking ranitidine, a substance found in brand-name drugs for heartburn, indigestion or to treat and prevent stomach ulcers.

The withdrawal notice follows a global recall of some products, including a suspension on the distribution of Zantac by Swiss drug manufacturer Novartis.

Although the health ministry does not recommend that patients stop taking products containing ranitidine, it says people should contact their doctor to seek alternative treatments.

“The circular was issued after reviewing measures taken by international health authorities,” said Dr Ruqaya Al Bastaki, director of the ministry's drug department.

“Once any warning in relation to medicines is issued, the ministry immediately releases a circular to all health and concerned authorities, highlighting the need to withdraw and dispose of certain products in order to safeguard the health and safety of the community.

“Patients should contact the ministry in the event of any side effects arising from using these products.”

The ministry said it will not permanently withdraw affected medicines until the acceptable ratio of N-Nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA, is established by the international health authorities.

Its decision follows recommendations from the US Food and Drug Administration, the European Medicines Agency and Health Canada regarding the possible contamination of the medicine with NDMA.

Sandoz, the generics division of Novartis, voluntarily recalled supplies of its 150mg and 300mg ranitidine hydrochloride capsules due to concerns of NDMA contamination, although adverse effects of the drug have not been reported.

To report any ill effects from taking ranitidine medication, contact the ministry on 04 04 2301448 or email them at pv@moh.gov.ae and see your doctor.

Updated: September 29, 2019 02:11 PM

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