The FDA issued a voluntary recall of over-the-counter ranitidine products from Walgreens, Walmart and Rite Aid

By Ashley Boucher and Sheila Cosgrove Baylis
October 09, 2019 01:15 PM
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Some doctors are advising pregnant women to avoid Zantac, a common heartburn medication, after the FDA issued a warning about ranitidine, which is the generic name for the drug.

“For safety, it’s probably best to discontinue that medication, which is what I’m advising my patients now,” Dr. Nicole Smith, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told The New York Times on Monday. “They can just switch to one of the other acid blockers instead.”

“If you are pregnant and have been taking ranitidine,” Dr. Smith added, try not to worry. “The likelihood of harm if you’ve been taking ranitidine is extremely small,” she said.

CVS Pharmacy suspended the sale of the heartburn medicine since the FDA’s voluntary recall of over-the-counter ranitidine products from Walgreens, Walmart and Rite Aid. CVS was not named in the FDA’s statement, but the store decided to pull the products out of an “abundance of caution,” the company said in a statement on Saturday.

“CVS Pharmacy has suspended the sale of all Zantac brand and CVS Health brand ranitidine products until further notice,” the statement said.

Drug stores continue to sell other H2 blockers that do not contain ranitidine, including Pepcid, Tagamet and generic versions famotidine and cimetidine.

“This action is being taken out of an abundance of caution due to a recent Product Alert from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that ranitidine products may contain a low level of nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which is a probable human carcinogen,” the CVS statement said.

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If customers using either Zantac or the generic version of the medication wish, they can return them to CVS for a refund, the company said.

A spokesperson for Walgreens told ABC News on Monday that it is “removing Zantac and ranitidine products from our shelves while the FDA continues its review of the products.”