Ranitidine, an H2 blocker and reference drug in the Pharmacare program, will be in short supply over the next few months. Health Canada has called for distribution of the medication to be halted due to possible NDMA (a carcinogen) contamination.
Patients can continue to take their current supply, but going forward there is insufficient supply of alternative H2 blockers, so the Ministry of Health expects a large volume of patients to be switched over to PPIs.
As pharmacists are not permitted to adapt H2 antagonist prescriptions, patients presenting at the pharmacy with a refill will be directed to visit their physician.
The Ministry has pre-approved Special Authority coverage for physicians switching patients from a H2 blocker for a PPI – all physicians need to do is write the prescription and educate patients on the potential risks/side effects. It's also an opportune time to discuss patient needs for continued treatment and whether an alternative medication is needed.
There are between 70,000 and 100,000 individuals on Ranitidine in the province. Therefore, physicians can expect an increase in office visits over the next few months as patients come to the end of their current prescriptions.
Full details regarding the recalls and expected shortage of Ranitidine can be found on the Pharmacare website.