• Gujarat High Court recently issued a notice to the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), under the Union Health Ministry, and the Gujarat Food and Drugs Control Administration (FDCA), in a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking immediate removal of drugs and medicines containing “cancerous impurities” such as NDMA from the Indian market.

About N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA):

  • It is a volatile organic chemical that occurs widely in the environment due to its ready formation from commonly found precursors.
  • It is classified as a probable human carcinogen (a substance that could cause cancer) on the basis of animal studies.
  • It is a yellow, odourless liquid chemical once used to make rocket fuel.
  • It is also a byproduct of several manufacturing processes and water chlorination.
  • NDMA breaks down when sunlight hits
  • Exposure:
    • Normally, people are exposed to small amounts of NDMA in the environment and through food and water.
    • Chemicals found in food and water, such as nitrosamines or alkylamines, can turn into NDMA in the stomach.
    • NDMA is also created when food or drink is processed. Foods such as cured meats (particularly bacon), beer, fish, cheese and even vegetables may contain NDMA.
    • Some people may have had exposure to NDMA through the use of contaminated medications.
  • Risk associated-
    • Exposure to small amounts isn’t a problem. The liver breaks down NDMA, which leaves the body through exhaled air or urine. This process occurs within 24 hours of ingesting the chemical.
    • But higher exposures over time may increase cancer risk, and sudden exposure to large quantities can be toxic.
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