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Ranitidine and norethisterone among medicines that cannot leave UK

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has added ranitidine and norethisterone to the list of medicines that cannot be exported from the UK.

Wholesalers are also restricted from exporting alprostadil and QVAR (beclometasone dipropionate) from today (October 18), the DH announced.

They join 19 hormone replacement therapies, adrenaline auto-injectors, emergency hormonal contraception levonorgestrel and hepatitis B vaccines in a growing list of medicines now subject to exporting restrictions.

Oral ranitidine shortage

The DH’s announcement follows a supply disruption notice earlier this week (October 15), in which it alerted pharmacists that all oral formulations of ranitidine are anticipated to be out of stock due to an ongoing quarantine. It does not know when they will be available again.

An investigation by Swiss and German regulatory agencies and the US Food and Drug Administration identified “a contaminant, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a probable human carcinogen, in samples of ranitidine active substance”, the DH explained.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) asked all UK manufacturers “using [the] active ingredient from this source” to quarantine their products while investigations are ongoing. Teva has so far recalled batches of its ranitidine effervescent tablets 150 micrograms and 300mg, while GlaxoSmithKline has recalled four Zantac products.

The DH’s notice includes a table to help healthcare professionals decide on a suitable alternative treatment for their patients.

What do you make of the export restrictions?

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