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Teva recalls Zantac batches in UK due to possible cancer-causing impurity

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. is recalling certain batches of heartburn drug Zantac in the U.K., according to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

The recall is a precautionary move, as the drugs may have been contaminated with a chemical that is a risk factor for certain cancers.

The Israeli drugmaker's unit in the U.K. is pulling all unexpired stock of certain batches of two types of the medicine, also known as ranitidine, due to possible contamination with an impurity called N-nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA. Health professionals have also been told to stop supplying the affected products, but patients are advised not to stop taking their medication.

Teva is the latest company to be impacted by the issue, with pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline PLC, Sanofi and Novartis AG conducting similar recalls in the past months due to the presence of NDMA in their ranitidine medicines. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has stated that NDMA is thought to cause cancer, though with a very low risk.

The U.K.'s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, or MHRA, previously said it is actively involved with the European Medicines Agency and other medicines regulators to determine any possible impact.

"Currently, there is no evidence that medicines containing nitrosamines have caused any harm to patients, but the agency is closely monitoring the situation, and working with other regulatory agencies around the world," said Andrew Gray, MHRA deputy director of inspections, enforcements and standards, said in a statement.

In 2018, certain blood pressure medicines known as sartans were found to be contaminated with NDMA, and strict manufacturing requirements were introduced after global recalls and investigations into the origin of the contamination.