If you’re taking a blood pressure drug containing valsartan, check with your pharmacist
By Katrina Caruso
Earlier this month, Good Times reported that a number of drugs containing valsartan were being recalled in Canada, the United States, and abroad. Now eight more drugs have been added to the recall. Valsartan is a common ingredient in prescription medications used to treat high blood pressure and to prevent heart attack and stroke.
The recall was prompted by the discovery that the valsartan may have been contaminated with a cancer-causing agent.
Initially, 28 drugs from five generic brands were on the recall list. Since then, traces of the same contaminated valsartan manufactured by the Chinese company Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals have been found in eight other medications, all from Teva Canada, one of Canada’s largest generic pharmaceuticals companies. The chemical behind the recall is known as NDMA (N-nitrosodimethylamine), which experts believe may cause cancer if people are exposed to it long-term, based on mostly studies that tested on animals. The full scope of the carcinogenic properties is yet to be determined, but Health Canada is currently undertaking a review. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, NDMA is a “probable” carcinogen in humans.
Since the recall was first announced, a potential class-action lawsuit has been filed against the Canadian firms involved.
Pharmacists have been supplied the newly updated list and asked to check their inventory. If you’re taking a drug containing valsartan, it’s important that you not simply stop taking it. Consult your doctor or pharmacist, who can switch you to one of the unaffected valsartan drugs—of which there are more than 50.
For the complete list of recalled drugs (as well as of the drugs that have not been recalled), visit this webpage on Health Canada’s site.