FDA Recalls a Popular Blood Pressure Medication Due to Potential Cancer Risk

If you are currently taking a blood pressure medication, stop what you are doing and read this. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration has recalled a variety of different blood pressure-related medications as patients taking them have shown a heightened risk for cancer.

The reason for these recalls is that there has been an impurity found called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), sometimes known as N-Nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA), a possible human carcinogen which can cause cancer in those taking it. The specific class of medication that has been recalled is known, medically, as a angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB). These are the meds that work to widen or relax the blood vessels in patients who suffer from high blood pressure. 

The FDA hasn’t been the only federal agency in the world to initiate these recalls, dozens of other countries have done so through their own federal health agencies.

That said, just because a number of medications have been pulled doesn’t necessarily mean that you should stop taking yours. Though there are many medications on the list, the recall only affects three drugs containing valsartan, irbesartan, and losartan.

Recently the FDA has published a set of handy lists to its website to help patients quickly determine whether or not their blood pressure medication has been recalled. The agency promises that each one of these lists will be updated as any official changes are made:

  • To see if you valsartan-containing medication is recalled, click here
  • To see if your irbesartan-containing product has been recalled, click here
  • To see if your losartan-containing product has been recalled, click here

Conversely, not all blood pressure medications contain these carcinogens. Here is a list of valsartan-containing medication that doesn’t.

What to do if you have been prescribed a recalled blood pressure medication

Before jumping to conclusions, first verify the drug name and manufacturer listed on the label of your prescription bottle to determine if your prescription is, in fact, one of the brands currently being recalled. If you can’t find it, call your pharmacy or doctor to confirm.

Once you have done your due diligence and confirmed that your medication is part of the recall, don’t stop it cold turkey—speak with your doctor before doing so. The drug provides a very important function, so it’s necessary to continue taking it until you are presented with a replacement product.

Though the possible side effects of these medications are scary ones, the FDA admits that temporary shortages of the blood pressure meds are imminent while manufacturers replace the tainted ones.

“The FDA is committed to maintaining our gold standard for safety and efficacy. That includes our efforts to ensure the quality of drugs and the safe manner in which they’re manufactured,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.

“When we identify lapses in the quality of drugs and problems with their manufacturing that have the potential to create risks to patients, we’re committed to taking swift action to alert the public and help facilitate the removal of the products from the market. As we seek the removal of certain drug products today, our drug shortages team is also working hard to ensure patients’ therapeutic needs are met in the United States with an adequate supply of unaffected medications.”

For more information on the original recall, be sure to watch the video below.

What do you think of this recall? Do you or anyone you know take these medications? Please share this so that you can help get the word across so others can check their prescriptions.