Blood pressure drug recalled on cancer fears

The recall is on medication containing valsartan which is used to treat high blood pressure.					Courtesy of Hope Litoff

The recall is on medication containing valsartan which is used to treat high blood pressure. Courtesy of Hope Litoff

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued a recall yesterday (July 10) of all batches of valsartan/hydrochlorothiazide 160/12.5mg film-coated tablets - used to treat high blood pressure and heart conditions - made by Accord Healthcare.

The problem was discovered when the European Medicines Agency (EMA) routinely tested batches of valsartan's active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) finding those from the supplier, Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals in Linhai in China to contain impurity.

Patients are also advised to speak with a pharmacist who can check if the specific drug someone is taking with the ingredient is being recalled. NDMA is a potential human carcinogen, which means that it could cause cancer with long-term exposure. The presence of NDMA was unexpected and is thought to be related to changes in the way the active substance was manufactured, the EMA said.

Additionally, precautionary measures will be taken by the EMA, which will review other valsartan medicines to ensure they have not also been affected. Pharmacies are therefore instructed to remove the affected medications from their stock and quarantine them. Valsartan has been also used to prevent heart failure.

EMA and United Kingdom regulators are working together to investigate the extent of the issues and any possible impact for patients.

"It is vital that patients taking valsartan medication affected by this recall do not stop taking their medication abruptly and consult with their doctor or healthcare professional as soon as possible for alternative treatment", according to the Inspectorate of Health.

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