A second probable carcinogen has been found in blood pressure medication that was recalled this summer, according to an update from Health Canada.
The drugs that contain valsartan manufactured by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals, were the subject of recalls in July and August after an impurity, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) was found.
Now, Health Canada says the drugs also contain a second impurity, N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA). Both NDEA and NDMA are classified as probable human carcinogens, meaning that long-term exposure could cause cancer.
The recalled medications are used to treat high blood pressure to help prevent heart attacks and stroke and are also given to patients who have had heart failure or a recent heart attack.
Health Canada says the new information regarding NDEA is limited at this time but that they will provide updates as more information becomes available.
Health Canada says that patients who take valsartan drugs should check their list of medications that are and are not recalled.
If your medication is among those affected by the recall, you should contact your health-care provider to discuss treatment options as soon as possible.
However, you should continue taking your medication unless you have been advised to stop by your health-care provider. According to Health Canada, “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’re not sure whether your medication is affected by the recalls, contact your pharmacist.