Another batch of valsartan recalled over carcinogenic concerns

The recall is on medication containing valsartan which is used to treat high blood pressure.					Courtesy of Hope Litoff

The recall is on medication containing valsartan which is used to treat high blood pressure. Courtesy of Hope Litoff

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety banned the import and sales of all 219 drugs made by 82 pharmaceutical companies containing the substance in question Saturday.

Mina Tadrous, (pharmacy faculty, University of Toronto), explained that valsartan is a common drug used by people with high blood pressure.

The Drug Administration under the Ministry of Health on Tuesday tasked all provincial departments of health and medicine manufacturers and pharmacies to suspend the circulation of all types of medicine containing Valsartan by the China-based Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical Company indicated in a designated list, the Vietnam News Agency reports.

Health Canada has ordered a recall of a commonly used medication used to treat high blood pressure because of fears an impurity found in the drugs may cause cancer with long-term exposure. The circular has also directed that all healthcare practitioners and doctors should not prescribe or dispense the affected products and also advises patients to not discontinue use of the medicine unless they consult with the doctor to prescribe other alternatives registered with the Ministry.

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"Out of the 2,690 hypertension drugs that are licensed for sale domestically, 571 of them contain Valsartan", said Kim Yu-mi, head of the Drug Review and Management Division at the ministry, "and 219 out of these contain Chinese-made Valsartan, but if we conduct a review of available data and on-site investigations, we may discover that the problematic drugs are fewer than this number".

Other medicines containing valsartan are not affected. Of 484,682 kilograms of Valsartan imported over the last three years, only 13,770 kilograms, or 2.8 percent contain ingredients from China.

"I'm astounded that carcinogens were found in medicine that is supposed to fix my disease", one patient said.

EMA's review will investigate the levels of NDMA in these valsartan medicines, its possible impact on patients who have been taking them and what measures can be taken to reduce or eliminate the impurity from future batches produced by the company.

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