The FDA says that three companies have recalled their pills because of a cancer-causing defect.
All of the affected medicines have the active ingredient valsartan.
A defect known to cause cancer called N-nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA, was found in batches of the medicine.
Studies on animals show that NDMA can cause cancer in the liver, kidney, and respiratory tract. So far there have been no studies of the chemical's effect on humans.
Check if you're taking any of these medicines
So far, products from three companies - Major Pharmaceuticals, Solco Healthcare, and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Inc. - are involved in the recall.
At least one of the companies, Major, says their pills were distributed to "wholesale and retail facilities, including hospitals and pharmacies" across the country.
The full list of recalled products includes:
- Valsartan - Major Pharmaceuticals
- Valsartan - Solco Healthcare
- Valsartan / Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) - Solco Healthcare
- Valsartan - Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Inc.
- Valsartan / Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) - Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Inc.
Not all medications with valsartan as the active ingredient are affected by the recall.
"The valsartan sold by these specific companies does not meet our safety standards," explained the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research director Janet Woodcock.
"This is why we’ve asked these companies to take immediate action to protect patients."
If the name of your medication and the company that manufactured it are not on the pill bottle label, call your pharmacy to ask for more information.
What should I do if my medicine is recalled?
The FDA is still researching the impact these drugs could have on patients who have already taken the recalled medicine, but provided guidelines for patients affected by the recall:
- The agency actually recommends patients to keep taking the drugs until they have a safe replacement.
- So far there are no reports of medical reactions to the drugs, but you can report one through the agency's MedWatch program.
- Patients affected by the recall should receive instructions from their drug's manufacturer. If you haven't, check the company website for more information.
- The FDA will also share information from the companies involved on their website.
- If your medicine was recalled, you should also contact your pharmacist or doctor, to discuss an alternate treatment plan or product.
America is joining the 22 other countries who have already recalled valsartan medicines.
The company that supplies valsartan to the three recalled drug manufacturers, Zhejiang Huahei Pharmaceuticals, had their medicines reviewed by the European Medicines Agency earlier this year.
Let's share this warning so everyone can stay safe!