Daily Times Editorial 25 September 2019

Cancer causing materials


Warning: The medicines manufactured with raw material ‘Rantidine’ are cancer causing. The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has ordered the withdrawal of such medicines from pharmacies and stopped companies across the country to from manufacturing them. The most familiar name made from ‘Rantidine’ is Zantac, doctors’ favourite prescription for the treatment of stomach acidity and related discomforts. DRAP’s warning stems from an alert by the United States’ Food and Drug Adminis­tration (USFDA) that issued a stern warning that the medicine can cause cancer. As per the findings of the USFDA and European Medicines Agency, nitrosamine impurity called N-Nitrosodimethyla­mine has been detected in some products containing Ranitidine and its risks are being evaluated. Thankfully, DRAP monitors such high-value information and takes appropriate action in the greater public interest. It said in a press release “… it is advised to suspend production for all dosage forms of Ranitidine-containing drugs till further orders; the stoppage of the release/distribution of all dosage forms of Ranitidine-containing drugs till further orders; and the stoppage of the sale/supply/utilisation of all dosage-forms of Ranitidine-containing drugs till further orders”. As per DRAP, the company manufacturing Zantac (Ranitidine) has started recalling medicines as a similar step is being taken by the company in Europe.
Cancer needs to be dealt with force. Already, it has become a leading disease causing death among middle-age adults around the world, after surpassing heart related diseases, according to fresh research published in The Lancet. The countries losing precious lives to cancer are mostly developed countries, whereas low-income countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh have cardiovascular diseases as the leading death causing issue followed by cancer. While heart related deaths are preventable by adopting a balanced lifestyle, cancer thrives and progresses in secrecy and ambushes the victim out of the blue. Gradual researches are trying to combat the deadly disease and time to time discoveries shed light on the efforts.
The treatment of cancer is as costly and horrible in Pakistan as is the disease itself. Recently, several patients occupied the Punjab Assembly in protest at the suspension of free medicine facility to them at public hospitals. They complained about the high prices of the medicines which are beyond their reach. The government, led by Prime Minister Imran Khan who is known for his landmark cancer-fighting charity, must restore the free medicine supply, initiated by the previous government. Also, there should be a mass awareness programme for the public about preventive measures against the life-threatening disease called cancer. *


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