Walmart Suspends Sales of Zantac as Tainted-Pill Worries Grow

By Timothy Annett | October 2, 2019

Walmart Inc. plans to suspend the sale of all over-the-counter versions of Zantac, becoming the latest retailer to take such a step as concern over the presence of cancer-causing contaminants in the stomach drug increases.

The world’s largest retailer said in a statement on Wednesday that it made the move after closely monitoring a recent alert from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that the products, which are also sold under the generic name ranitidine, may contain low levels of the potential human carcinogen NDMA.

A recent series of drug recalls has raised concerns about the safety and integrity of the U.S. drug-supply chain and the capacity of regulators to adequately police a sprawling global network of pharmaceutical suppliers. NDMA was previously detected in generic blood-pressure pills, sparking a recall of millions of pills in about 30 countries.

Walmart said patients could return the drugs, including medicine sold under the Equate and Member’s Mark brands, to its Walmart and Sam’s Club stores for a refund. Walmart has pharmacies in thousands of its U.S. stores. The FDA has advised consumers who take ranitidine medications for heartburn and other stomach ailments to consider alternative therapies while the agency investigates the contamination.

In recent days, major U.S. pharmacy chains operated by Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., Rite Aid Corp. and CVS Health Corp. said they were also taking versions of Zantac off their shelves.

Some versions of Zantac have been recalled in the U.S. by manufacturers. Canadian generic-drug maker Apotex Inc. recalled ranitidine that it made for Walmart, Rite Aid and Walgreens last month. Novartis AG’s Sandoz unit recalled generic prescription ranitidine in the U.S. after detecting elevated NDMA levels.

French drug giant Sanofi makes branded Zantac. Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. have halted global distribution of their versions of the drug.

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