If you’re on a drug for high blood pressure or heart failure, it’s pretty likely that you’re doing your best to keep your body in working order. However, some patients with heart issues have recently found themselves trading one life-threatening condition with the risk of another.
An FDA investigation has triggered a recall of over 50 different medications which contain a drug that has now been linked to cancers. N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) is formally classified as a carcinogen by the FDA, meaning that it has the potential to cause cancers to form, and it was found in 55 different medications under the name valsartan, which is prescribed for patients with heart failure and blood pressure issues.
The recall list is long, covering valsartan prescriptions in a number of different dosages and amounts. A number of different companies produce the drug, and now they’re being forced to yank them from pharmacy shelves. The FDA notes that the carcinogen’s presence in the drug is being considered an “impurity,” meaning that not all valsartan prescriptions are affected by the recall. Those which do not contain the NDMA impurity are still considered safe, according to the FDA.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb provided the following statement in the FDA’s bulletin:
The FDA is committed to maintaining our gold standard for safety and efficacy. That includes our efforts to ensure the quality of drugs and the safe manner in which they’re manufactured. When we identify lapses in the quality of drugs and problems with their manufacturing that have the potential to create risks to patients, we’re committed to taking swift action to alert the public and help facilitate the removal of the products from the market. As we seek the removal of certain drug products today, our drug shortages team is also working hard to ensure patients’ therapeutic needs are met in the United States with an adequate supply of unaffected medications.
If you need to check whether your medication is part of the recall, you can do so via the list (PDF) provided by the FDA.