*Since this article was published, the recall of Valsartan was expanded.
Stay in touch with your doctor who will let you know if your medication
has been affected and the treatment regimen that will work best for you.
More than 100 million Americans have high blood pressure, and many of them
take medication to reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke. For those
who take a drug containing Valsartan, a recent recall came as a surprise.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Valsartan contains
an impurity that could possibly lead to cancer, and it was voluntarily
removed from pharmacy shelves earlier this month. The impurity is called
N-nitrosodimethylamine or NDMA, and FDA officials said that its presence in certain drugs is
thought to be related to changes in the way the substance was manufactured.
The recall action came after 22 countries issued recalls, including Germany,
Sweden, Italy, Spain, Belgium, France, Canada and many others.
Patients affected by the recall should consult their doctor or pharmacist
until they are prescribed a safe alternative. Heart failure, stroke and
high blood pressure are serious conditions and patients could be harmed
if they suddenly stop taking their medications and don’t take a
substitute. Even after switching to a new drug, it’s important to
monitor your blood pressure closely as your dosage might need to be adjusted
under your doctor’s direction.
As for cancer risk, not all Valsartan drugs are linked to the NDMA impurity.
Stay in close touch with your physician, who will inform you of future
tests related to the recall, and treatment regimens that will work best for you.
Jacob Wood, MD
Baton Rouge Family Medical Center
Phone: (225) 763-4900
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