A substance in valsartan than is found in some heart and high blood pressure drugs has been linked to cancer. Health Canada announced that the drugs were coming from China, from Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals. The valsartan used in those products had an impurity known as N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).
NDMA can cause cancer after long-term exposure to it. Manufacturers issued the recall of the drugs.
Drugs that contain valsartan are used in treating high blood pressure and help to prevent heart attacks and stroke. Patients that have had a recent heart attack or heart failure also use these drugs.
Health Canada Advises Patients to Talk With Pharmacists
According to Health Canada recommendations, patients that take that drug should talk with their pharmacists to know if their medicine was recalled. The agency also said that everyone that takes medication which contains valsartan should continue taking it unless their doctor or pharmacist tells them to stop.
Nardine Nakhla (School of Pharmacy at the University of Waterloo, Ontario) stated the following:
“Patients should not stop taking their medicine if it contains valsartan unless they’ve been specifically instructed to do so by their prescriber or pharmacist.”
She continues, explaining that patients should go to the pharmacy and see “if the drugs they’re taking are indeed the affected, recalled valsartan products. The pharmacist can then figure out alternative medications that are unaffected by the recall.”
Mina Tadrous, (pharmacy faculty, University of Toronto), explained that valsartan is a common drug used by people with high blood pressure. He said that Health Canada is “extra cautious, because there was some sort of negative lab result.”
Moreover, he added that if patients respond well to the drugs, they shouldn’t switch to a different one and that patients should “check if your lot is even part of their [recall], and if it is, they’ll just switch you to a lot that’s outside of it.”
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.