Recall of Valsartan containing drugs

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

The drug was developed over 20 years ago by Novartis and since then has been very frequently prescribed to treat patients with high blood pressure. For example, Swiss company Novartis informed the ministry that their products containing valsartan are not impacted because these products do not contain the ingredient from external suppliers.

The Drug Administration under the Ministry of Health on Tuesday tasked all provincial departments of health and medicine manufacturers and pharmacies to suspend the circulation of all types of medicine containing Valsartan by the China-based Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical Company indicated in a designated list, the Vietnam News Agency reports.

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. "Patients should contact their pharmacist (s) to see if the drugs they're taking are indeed the affected, recalled valsartan products". The 219 drugs containing Chinese-made Valsartan are among 571 available drugs in Korea that contain the ingredient coming from other countries.

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The valsartan used in the products contains an impurity, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a chemical that could potentially cause cancer in humans with long-term exposure, according to the government agency. It initiated on-site investigations of 82 companies to check whether the drugs contain NDMA.

Oh Beom-jo, a professor of family medicine at Dongguk University Medical Center, said, "Patients will be confused about whether their drugs are problematic or not".

In addition, the Ministry of Health and Welfare is looking for ways to inform patients of their pharmaceutical history through the Drug Utilization Review software and said it has already granted full health insurance coverage for patients who were taking the contaminated drugs and need alternatives.

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