The People's Perspective on Medicine

Is Your Blood Pressure Medicine Safe? Valsartan Recall

American generic drug manufacturer Mylan has issued a multi-lot valsartan recall. Check your blood pressure pills to make sure they are not included.

The ongoing saga of contaminated valsartan continues with another valsartan recall. In July, European drug regulators recalled Chinese-made valsartan because it was contaminated with a probable carcinogen, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). The FDA followed suit with its own recall.

Ripple Effect of the Initial Valsartan Recall:

Eventually more than a dozen companies had their valsartan removed from the marketplace because of carcinogens. The raw material for most of these products originated from the Zhejiang HuaHai Pharmaceutical company in Linhai, China.

Another US Valsartan Recall:

Now, a U.S. generic drug company, Mylan, is recalling many lots of its valsartan because they contain the potentially cancer-causing chemical, N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA). Some of the affected pills contain valsartan alone, while others are a combination of valsartan and a different blood pressure medicine. Both amlodipine and hydrochlorothiazide combos with valsartan are included in the recall. Here are the details on the specific lots that have been recalled. It is not clear where the active pharmaceutical ingredient for these pills was made. The European Union is also recalling Mylan’s valsartan made in Hyderabad, India.

Watch Out for Recalls on Other ARBs:

Valsartan is not the only medication to have been recalled in the past few months. Some lots of losartan and irbesartan were also found to have been contaminated and were voluntarily removed from the market. It is possible that manufacturers have not yet done the necessary trouble-shooting to produce medications that are reliably free from carcinogenic contamination.

If you discover that the pills in your medicine chest are affected by this latest valsartan recall, return them to the pharmacy for replacement. You should also check with your doctor about how to proceed.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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For five years I have taken the valsartan containing DNEA. Apparently all the generic drug is contaminated with carcinogen chemicals. What about the brand? Is it carcinogenic too?
Has the brand name been tested?
Are any blood pressure meds made in US without using Chinese cancer-causing ingredients?

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