When our doctor prescribes medication, we trust that it will not only help our condition, but that it will be safe to take. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. When medications are defective or dangerous, they can cause additional illness or injury to people who already have a serious medical condition.
In July 2018, certain blood pressure and heart failure medications called angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) were recalled due to contamination of potential carcinogens. The recall includes ARB medications containing valsartan, losartan and irbesartan. These medications may be contaminated by impurities, including the potential carcinogens N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) and N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA).
The recall expanded recently to include medications that may contain N-Nitroso-N-methyl-4-aminobutyric acid (NMBA). You can see the most recent update to the recall list here.
What should you do if your medication is part of the recall?
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that the risk to people is “very low,” but they are still concerned about the impurities. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, says the impurity problem is “not acceptable.”
If you take any of the affected medications, you should talk to your physician and pharmacist right away. Do not just stop taking the medicine unless your doctor prescribes a new medication or determines a different course of action for you.
As of this writing, the FDA considers the risk of getting cancer from these drug impurities quite remote. If that changes in the future and the drugs cause cancer or other medical problems, the negligent pharmaceutical manufacturers may be held accountable.