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US finds contaminant in popular heartburn drug

WASHINGTON — U.S. health officials are investigating low levels of a potentially dangerous contaminant in the popular heartburn medication Zantac and related drugs.

For now, the Food and Drug Administration said patients can continue taking their medications.

The agency said Friday it has detected a “probable” cancer-causing chemical in the medications, which are sold as both prescription and over-the-counter treatments.

FDA officials said the amount of the contaminant barely exceeds levels found in common foods. But the same chemical has been linked to dozens of recalls of blood pressure drugs in the past year. The FDA is still investigating that issue and last month sanctioned a manufacturing plant in India that makes some of the medications.

Roughly 80 percent of the ingredients used in U.S. drugs are manufactured overseas.

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