Ministry recalls some medicines containing valsartan over cancer fears


Health Canada announced Tuesday a major recall of drugs used for high blood pressure and heart failure because they may be contaminated with a probable human carcinogen.

In the United Kingdom, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is working with pharmacies to recall the affected medicines but have also stated the importance of patients continuing their treatment but to seek advice from a healthcare professional immediately.

Drugs for high blood pressure sit on the shelf of a pharmacy in Seoul on Monday.

N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) has been detected in the valsartan active substancemanufactured by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals.

The valsartan active ingredient from the facility in China has been used by various pharmaceutical manufacturers to produce valsartan-containing medications in Europe, some of which are available on-island.

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The decision was given following the previous announcements of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Health Canada and other medical management authorities on the withdrawal of Valsartan-containing medicines produced by the mentioned company. The company says that "no other Sandoz or Novartis products, even those that may contain valsartan, are affected by the recall".

Other medicines containing valsartan are not affected.

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.

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.

Sam Atkinson, director of the Inspection, Enforcement and Standards Division at the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, advised: "People taking valsartan medication affected by this recall are advised to not stop taking their medication, but to speak to their doctor or healthcare professional who can advise on alternative treatment".