Second Carcinogen Found in Blood Pressure Drugs Recalled This Summer, States Health Canada

The blood pressure medication recalled this summer because of an impurity considered to be carcinogenic appears to have a second probable carcinogen, stated Health Canada in an update.

Valsartan was used in the drugs manufactured by the Chinese company Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals. Their drugs were voluntarily recalled in July and August after the N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) impurity was found.

Now, according to the Health Canada update, the drugs were found to contain a second impurity – N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA).

Both impurities are categorized as being probable human carcinogens, which means that they can cause cancer after long-term exposure.

The medication recalled this summer was used in treating high blood pressure to prevent heart attacks or stroke. Patients that had a recent heart attack or heart failure also received these drugs.

At this time, Health Canada stated that they do not have many details about NDEA, but as soon as there is more information available, they will issue an update.

Contact Your Health Care Provider

The recommendations from Health Canada are that patients on valsartan treatment check the list of their drugs and see if they are recalled. If the medication is one of the recalled ones, contact the health care provider as soon as possible to switch to a different drug.

Health Canada also added that people should continue taking their blood pressure medication until the health-care provider says it’s time to stop:

“Since the risk of cancer is with long-term exposure to the NDMA and NDEA impurities, there is no immediate health risk, and patients can continue to take this drug to treat their medical condition until they can discuss treatment options with their health-care provider.”

If you do not know which medication was affected by the recalls, talk to your pharmacist.

For more updates, check the recalls and safe alerts page on the Health Canada website.

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere