Following a recall of the heartburn medication ranitidine (brand name Zantac), Canada is facing shortages of heartburn relief alternatives like famotidine (brand name Pepcid) after demand spiked. Ranitidine was recalled in Canada in October of 2019 after testing found unacceptable levels of the carcinogen N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).
According to reporting from CBC News, the shortages could last several months, as many of these alternative heartburn medications are on backorder until at least March. Some brands were already in short supply when ranitidine was recalled in October.
With as many as a quarter of Canadians experiencing heartburn symptoms daily, the shortage situation has gotten worse as patients sought out alternatives. Drug Shortages Canada, a site run by Health Canada (Canada’s department for national public health), has reported that some of these heartburn medications have been discontinued altogether as supplies have run out.
This situation is a contrast to the United States, which issued only a voluntary recall of NDMA-contaminated heartburn medications, where there have not yet been any shortages of alternatives to ranitidine products.
By Benjamin Duong
Benjamin Duong is a medical student and freelance writer based in Dothan, Alabama. He has a Masters of Public Health from the George Washington University and majored in microbiology and political science at the University of Florida. He has worked on advocacy for issues ranging from medical education to global maternal and infant mortality.