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Approximately 75 million Americans (32%) have high blood pressure and this dangerous condition is a contributing cause in about 410,000 deaths annually. High blood pressure, if left untreated, can lead to serious complications such as heart disease and stroke. Unfortunately, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently announced a voluntary recall of commonly used blood pressure medications because they may contain a cancer-causing chemical.
WHAT THEY KNEW
Valsartan is an off-patent ingredient used to make generic medications that treat heart failure and high blood pressure. When the pharmaceutical companies changed their manufacturing process, it is believed that N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), an impurity thought to be a probable cancer-causing agent, contaminated the medication.
If you are currently taking a medication to treat your high blood pressure, the FDA recommends that you check your prescription to see if you are taking one of the following brands (However, DON’T stop taking your medication until you talk with your doctor.):
- Major Pharmaceuticals and includes 40 mg, 80mg, 160mg, and 320mg; and Valsartan-HCTZ Tablets, 80mg/12.5mg, 160mg/12.5mg, 160mg/25mg, 320mg/12.5mg, and 320mg/25mg, within expiration dates from July 2018 to Jan. 2020.
- Solco Healthcare and includes 40 mg, 80mg, 160mg, and 320mg; and Valsartan-HCTZ Tablets, 80mg/12.5mg, 160mg/12.5mg, 160mg/25mg, 320mg/12.5mg, and 320mg/25mg, within expiration dates from July 2018 to Jan. 2020.
- Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries and includes 40 mg, 80mg, 160mg, and 320mg; Valsartan-HCTZ Tablets, 80mg/12.5mg, 160mg/12.5mg, 160mg/25mg, 320mg/12.5mg, and 320mg/25mg, within expiration dates from July 2018 to October 2019.
If you are currently taking one of these recalled medications, the FDA advises that you DON’T stop taking it until you have a substitute medication that has not been recalled. Contact your pharmacy and your physician immediately if you are taking a recalled medication.
WHEN THEY KNEW IT
Additionally, in a study published in December 2017, it was found that hydrochlorothiazide – the “HCTZ” listed in certain forms of the above medications along with valsartan – causes a seven times greater risk for skin cancer than similar medications that don’t contain this chemical. “We knew that hydrochlorothiazide made the skin more vulnerable to damage from the sun’s UV rays, but what is new and also surprising is that long-term use of this blood pressure medicine leads to such a significant increase in the risk of skin cancer,” says Anton Pottegård, Associate Professor, PhD, from the University of Southern Denmark, who is the initiator of the study.
One of our Periscope Group followers recently commented about how this drug may have impacted her mother’s health:
“My mom had squamous cell carcinoma [skin cancer] of the soft and hard palate of her mouth and underwent a maxillectomy [removal of all or part of the maxilla bone which is found in the facial region] this year. Her health has declined since that bad surgery when 3/4 of her palate was removed. This is usually diagnosed in smokers or tobacco dippers. My mother has never done either. Her doctor said this was unusual, but made excuses regarding that this was age related. I now know that HCTZ is the cause!!!!! She has taken it for at least 15 years. My mother has no other issues except colitis and age. This surgery made her so weak that she is no longer ambulatory at the level she was before.”
We are actively investigating these cases and are dedicated to keeping you informed as to the progression of this issue.