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FDA Continues to Recall Blood Pressure Medications for Cancer Risk


The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued multiple recalls of blood pressure medications because of the link between the class of drugs and the presence of a carcinogenic chemical.

Blood pressure medications, including valsartan and losartan, were recalled starting in July of 2018. The FDA detected NDMA, NMBA, and NDEA (abbreviations for the chemical names N-Nitrosodimethylamine, N-Nitroso-N-methyl-4-aminobutyric acid, and N-Nitrosodiethylamine) in several batches of blood pressure pills.

The first recall was limited to a known-contaminated batch of the pills. Patients who were prescribed the medication were encouraged to discuss the risks of continued use with their doctors, and decide on a treatment plan. At the time, it was possible that some people’s pills were not included in the recalled batch.

However, the recall has expanded well beyond the initial announcement, identifying many more patients as at risk for exposure. As of the publishing of this article, this is the fifth time the blood pressure medication recall was expanded.

The chemicals are known to be “safe” in smaller quantities, but the amounts that were identified in the contaminated blood pressure pills is enough to be dangerous. According to a report from Bloomberg Businessweek, “Some of the contaminated valsartan contains as much as 17 micrograms of NDMA in a single pill. That’s equivalent to eating 48 pounds of bacon,” in terms of cancer risk. There is debate over the actual amount of contaminants in the medication, with some believing initial reports are conservative: “European health regulators put the cancer risk from contaminated blood pressure medicines higher: They estimate that one out of every 3,390 people could become sick,” continued the Bloomberg Businessweek article. It is also possible that contamination was present well before it was recently detected, as stated in a USA Today article on the subject.

Patients are still being advised to continue taking their medication if advised by their doctor, as there could be potential risks in stopping the treatment. To learn if your medication was impacted, refer to the growing FDA list.

At Belushin Law Firm, P.C., our attorneys represent people who have been injured by the use of dangerous drugs. Contact our firm if you have a case.

To schedule a free consultation, send us a message or call (888) 918-9890.

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