Cancer is a scary word. The idea that medication for one health issue could possibly result in more catastrophic health issues is additionally scary! Just recently, the United States Food and Drug Administration issued a recall on several drugs that are being used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure–because of a cancer risk (1). Twenty-two other countries have already recalled these drugs due to the cancer risk (2).
FDA Recalls Blood Pressure Meds Due to Cancer Risk
The FDA publicly announced the recall of several drugs over the weekend containing the active ingredient, valsartan (1). The FDA claimed that the recall is due to the impurity in the drugs, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which is classified as a probable human carcinogen (1). According to CNN, “Valsartan is off patent and is used as a component of other generic medicines, but not all medicines containing the ingredient were involved… The US recall includes the versions of valsartan that are made by Major Pharmaceuticals, Solco Healthcare, and Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. as well as valsartan/hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) sold by Solco Healthcare and Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd.”(2).
Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said, “We have carefully assessed the valsartan-containing medications sold in the United States, and we’ve found that the valsartan sold by these specific companies does not meet our safety standards. This is why we’ve asked these companies to take immediate action to protect patients” (2).
According to the FDA (3),
“Because valsartan is used in medicines to treat serious medical conditions, patients taking the recalled valsartan-containing medicines should continue taking their medicine until they have a replacement product.
How do I know if my meds were recalled?
To determine whether a specific product has been recalled, patients should look at the drug name and company name on the label of their prescription bottle. If the information is not on the bottle, patients should contact the pharmacy that dispensed the medicine.
If a patient is taking one of the recalled medicines listed below, they should follow the recall instructions provided by the specific company. This information will be posted to the FDA’s website (4).
Patients should also contact their health care professional (the pharmacist who dispensed the medication or doctor who prescribed the medication) if their medicine is included in this recall to discuss their treatment, which may include another valsartan product not affected by this recall or an alternative treatment option” (3)
Once again, to determine whether or not your own medication has been recalled, you must look at the drug name and the company name on the prescription bottle (1). If you cannot find this information on the bottle, then you’ll need to contact your pharmacy and inquire for the information from them.
If it so happens that your medicine is listed on the recall, you should contact your doctor right away to discuss the proper procedure for your treatment (1). As the FDA recommends, since valsartan is meant to treat some very serious medical conditions, it’s important that you don’t cut off your medication without first consulting your doctor.