Global recall of heart drug due to potential carcinogen contamination

Several medications containing valsartan are being recalled due to fears of contamination

Health chiefs have recalled a number of medicines that contain the ingredient valsartan.

The valsartan was supplied by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals.

"An impurity, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), was found in the valsartan used in these products", Health Canada said in a news release on Monday.

While the review is underway, national authorities across the European Union are recalling medicines containing valsartan supplied by Zhejiang Huahai.

NDMA can cause cancer after long-term exposure to it. Manufacturers issued the recall of the drugs.

It is believed that the presence of the NDMA impurity in the active ingredient is related to changes in the way the substance has been manufactured. Doctors advised that people should not stop taking medicine without first consulting a professional specialist.

"Patients should not stop taking their medicine if it contains valsartan unless they've been specifically instructed to do so by their prescriber or pharmacist".

You may be given a different valsartan medicine (or an alternative treatment) when you go for your next prescription. The recall was issued after the Ministry's senior officials reviewed Ministerial Resolution No. (366) of 2010 governing the withdrawal, suspension, or prevention of distribution of pharmaceutical and medical products to protect public health. For example, Swiss company Novartis informed the ministry that their products containing valsartan are not impacted because these products do not contain the ingredient from external suppliers.

Drugs containing valsartan are used to treat patients with high blood pressure to help prevent heart attacks and stroke.

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