HSA Stops Supply Of 8 Medicines For Heartburn; May Cause Cancer With Longterm Exposure

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Before you go rioting after reading the headlines, relax.

This gif’s got nothing to do with the article, but it’s relaxing eh? / Image: Giphy

The cancer causing thing is only with long term exposure, so you’ll be fine even if you had used those medicine, provided you only used them a short while of course.

Just ask your doctor about it.

So now that you’ve put down your pitchforks a little, let’s explain what all this is about.

8 Brands of Heartburn/Gastric Ulcer Medicine Supply Stopped

There’s this type of medicine called ranitidine. What it does is reduce stomach acid production, which happens to be useful for heartburn and gastric ulcer conditions.

It’s generally used only when necessary, or short periods of time for a few days to a few weeks.

On 16 September 2019, Health Science Authority (HSA) released a statement to stop 8 particular brands of ranitidine medicine.

Here are the 8 brands:

  1. Aciloc (Supplied by Uni Drug House)
  2. Apo-Ranitidine (Supplied by Pharmaforte Singapore Pte Ltd)
  3. Hyzan (Supplied by Apex Pharma Marketing Pte Ltd)
  4. Neoceptin (Supplied by Pharmatech Resources (FE) Pte Ltd)
  5. Vesyca Film Coated (Supplied by Yung Shin Pharmaceutical (Singapore) Pte Ltd)
  6. Xanidine (Supplied by Polymedic Trading Enterprise Pte Ltd)
  7. Zantac (Supplied by GlaxoSmithKline Pte Ltd)
  8. Zynol-150 (Supplied by Naina Mohamed & Sons Private Limited)

Contains Nitrosamine Impurity

And the reason for this is because they found that the amount of impurity in the medicine is above the internationally acceptable level. Acceptable meaning: the level of dosage if you take the medicine every day for 70 years, nothing would happen to you.

The impurity is called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which is a nitrosamine.

Nitrosamines are environmental contaminants and can be found in processed food (pickled vegetables, salted fish, processed meat products such as bacon and sausages) or even the environment in very very small amounts.

They can be formed unexpectedly in the manufacturing of some medicines, which is what happened here.

Should I Worry About This Impurity?

Above a certain level of dosage NDMA might cause cancer. I say might, but that’s only because there are no reports of NDMA actually causing cancer in humans.

NDMA was used to create cancer in rats for research, and there are also cases like the Fudan poisoning case, which NDMA was used as a poison. So yeah, NDMA is pretty dangerous.

But before you start panicking and calling your doctors, you should know also know that it’s all about dosage. The dosage in the pills is not near that dosage to cause cancer. So this is all precautionary measures taken by HSA.


Image: Giphy

HSA is working with those companies to find out why the contamination happened, and how to address the issue.

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