Common heart drug recalled due to contamination with possible carcinogen

Valsartan a common heart disease drug is being recalled across Europe because it contains a chemical that has the potential to cause cancer

The Mohap explained that other medicines containing Valsartan manufactured using the same active ingredient from other sources are safe to use. The valsartan used in those products had an impurity known as N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).

Health Canada announced Tuesday a major recall of drugs used for high blood pressure and heart failure because they may be contaminated with a probable human carcinogen.

The products are sold globally, which has led to a worldwide recall on a country-by-country basis.

The announcement follows news last week that the European Medicines Agency launched a recall and review of valsartan-containing drugs.

The next step for the EMA is to conduct a review of the situation, including determining the levels of NDMA in the products, understanding how this may have affected patients and planning methods to eliminate or reduce such contamination in the future.

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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.

As it is now off-patent, it is used as ingredient in many other generic medicines.

Additionally, precautionary measures will be taken by the EMA, which will review other valsartan medicines to ensure they have not also been affected.

Pharmacies in 22 countries including Germany, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria, Ireland, Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, France, Poland, Croatia, Lithuania, Greece, Canada, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bahrain and Malta have been warned and asked to recall products containing Valsartan as a precaution. Pharmacies are therefore instructed to remove the affected medications from their stock and quarantine them.

Because high blood pressure is a chronic disorder that requires long-term treatment, concerns abound that Korea's six million patients that depend on hypertension drugs may have already been exposed to carcinogens for an extended duration.

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