FDA recalls blood pressure, heart failure medications after cancer-causing agents found

Common heart drugs recalled due to contamination

Recalls of certain drugs containing heart drug valsartan supplied by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical have spread to the USA, as the FDA sought voluntary actions to take some affected drugs off the shelves due to the potential cancer risk. Exposure to high levels can cause liver damage and is a probable human carcinogen, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. The FDA said the reason the NDMA was in the medications is "thought to be related to changes in the way the active substances was manufactured". The DRAP Recall alert stated that a total of nine pharmaceutical companies in Pakistan are on the DRAP recall list and this list does not include Getz Pharma and its products: Cova, Covam and Cova-H. "This is why we've asked these companies to take immediate action to protect patients", said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Windsor Regional Hospital is asking patients to continue taking their heart medications prescribed by their doctor, even though an ingredient may have been recalled by the manufacturer.

For some patients, however, valsartan is a life-saving drug, and giving up treatment is not an option.

"The FDA is committed to maintaining our gold standard for safety and efficacy".

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To determine if you're medication has been recalled, look at the drug name and company name on the label of your prescription bottle. "That includes our efforts to ensure the quality of drugs and the safe manner in which they're manufactured", said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a statement. The supplier has stopped distributing its product, known as the valsartan active pharmaceutical ingredient, and the FDA is working with the affected companies to lessen or remove it from future products.

As swift as the FDA's response appears to be, the whole issue has re-ignited an important conversation regarding how the United States can ensure the safety of imported drugs in the future - especially as imported drugs become more and more common. The agency said its drug shortages team is also trying to ensure an adequate supply of unaffected alternatives. This information will be posted to the FDA's website.

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