A voluntary recall of a common drug used to control blood pressure and help prevent heart failure was announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday, a week after 22 other countries recalled it because the drug contains a chemical that poses a potential cancer risk.
Valsartan is off patent and is used as a component of other generic medicines, but not all medicines containing the ingredient are involved. The U.S. recall includes the the versions of valsartan that are made by Major Pharmaceuticals, Solco Healthcare and Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. as well as valsartan/hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) sold by Solco Healthcare and Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration posted the following on their website:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting health care professionals and patients of a voluntary recall of several drug products containing the active ingredient valsartan, used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. This recall is due to an impurity, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which was found in the recalled products. However, not all products containing valsartan are being recalled. NDMA is classified as a probable human carcinogen (a substance that could cause cancer) based on results from laboratory tests. The presence of NDMA was unexpected and is thought to be related to changes in the way the active substance was manufactured.
CNN reports NDMA is an organic chemical that is in a family of potent carcinogens. It has been used to make liquid rocket fuel, softeners and lubricants, among other products. It can also be unintentionally produced through certain chemical reactions and is a byproduct from some pesticide manufacturing, the making of rubber tires or fish processing.