Pfizer halts Chantix distribution after finding carcinogen

Pfizer is halting global distribution of its drug Chantix after finding some pills contain elevated levels of nitrosamines, a likely carcinogen, Bloomberg reported June 24. 

Chantix is used to help people stop smoking. Pfizer is recalling certain lots of the drug, but it didn't say how many. It also didn't say which nitrosamines it found in the drug or how the carcinogens got into the pills, Bloomberg reported. 

Pfizer said the distribution halt is out of an abundance of caution pending further testing. 

A Pfizer spokesperson, Eamonn Nolan, told Bloomberg that the benefits of Chantix "outweigh the very low potential risks, if any, posed by nitrosamine exposure from [Chantix] on top of other common sources over a lifetime." 

Trace amounts of nitrosamines can be found in water and grilled meat. The potential carcinogen has also been found in heartburn drug Zantac, as well as the commonly used diabetes drug metformin. 

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