UAE recalls some hypertension medicines over cancer fears

Valsartan a common heart disease drug is being recalled across Europe because it contains a chemical that has the potential to cause cancer

Valsartan a common heart disease drug is being recalled across Europe because it contains a chemical that has the potential to cause cancer

Health Canada has ordered a recall of a commonly used medication used to treat high blood pressure because of fears an impurity found in the drugs may cause cancer with long-term exposure.

NDMA is classified as a probable human carcinogen (a substance that could cause cancer) based on results from laboratory tests. One-hundred-and-four drugs were cleared of the measure Monday while the remaining 115 carcinogen-containing pills remain off the market, following component analyses.

Swiss multinational pharmaceutical compaany Novartis informed the ministry that their products containing Valsartan - Diovan, Co-Diovan Entresto and Exforge - are not impacted because these products do not contain the active ingredient from an external supplier. The circular has also directed that all healthcare practitioners and doctors should not prescribe or dispense the affected products and also advises patients to not discontinue use of the medicine unless they consult with the doctor to prescribe other alternatives registered with the Ministry.

Health Canada announced that the drugs were coming from China, from Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals. It is also used in patients who have had heart failure or a recent heart attack.

Over 484,682 kilograms of Valsartan have been imported to Korea over the last three years, according to the ministry, but only 2.8 percent, or 13,770 kilograms, contain ingredients from China. The 219 drugs containing Chinese-made Valsartan are among 571 available drugs in Korea that contain the ingredient coming from other countries. It initiated on-site investigations of 82 companies to check whether the drugs contain NDMA.

The Korea Institute of Drug Safety and Risk Management, supervised by the drug ministry, recommended patients to swiftly report any drug-related side effects.

Health Canada indicated it is monitoring the companies' recalls and suggests people taking medicine with valsartan should keep doing so unless their doctor or pharmacist tells them to stop.

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