26 drugs dropped from ‘essentials’ list, at least one over cancer-causing fears

Centre has removed the popular antacid salt Ranitidine from the essential medicine list over cancer-causing concerns. 26 medicines have been taken off the list.

Ranitidine is popularly sold under the brand names Aciloc, Zinetac, and Rantac, among others, and is commonly prescribed for acidity and stomachache-related issues.

The Health Ministry on Tuesday released the new National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), which contains 384 drugs. Meanwhile, 26 medicines removed from the list will cease to exist in the country.

The 26 excluded medicines include:

1. Alteplase 2. Atenolol 3. Bleaching Powder 4. Capreomycin 5. Cetrimide 6. Chlorpheniramine 7. Diloxanide furoate 8. Dimercaprol 9. Erythromycin 10. Ethinylestradiol 11. Ethinylestradiol(A) Norethisterone (B) 12. Ganciclovir 13. Kanamycin 14. Lamivudine (A) + Nevirapine (B) + Stavudine (C) 15. Leflunomide 16. Methyldopa 17. Nicotinamide 18. Pegylated interferon alfa 2a, Pegylated interferon alfa 2b 19. Pentamidine 20. Prilocaine (A) + Lignocaine (B) 21. Procarbazine 22. Ranitidine 23. Rifabutin 24. Stavudine (A) + Lamivudine (B) 25. Sucralfate 26. White Petrolatum

Ranitidine is under the scanner throughout the world for concerns related to cancer and the Health Ministry has discussed the details with the Drug Controller General of India and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) about taking the salt out of the essential stock.

The salt has been under investigation since 2019 when the US-based Food and Drug Administration found probable cancer-causing impurity in the drug. Drug regulators found cancer-causing impurity N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) at “unacceptable levels” in samples of drugs containing ranitidine.

Zantac was one of the world’s first drugs to top $1 billion in annual sales way back in 1988.

Meanwhile, with the new essential list out, the prices of several high-demand medicines in India are likely to go down, which include anti-diabetic drugs like insulin glargine, anti-tuberculosis drugs like delamanid, and antiparasite like ivermectin.

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