Blood Pressure Medications Recalled

Dozens of batches of a blood pressure pills have been recalled due to being contaminated with 'unacceptable' levels of a potentially cancer causing chemical.

Pharmacies and health professionals were ordered to immediately stop supplying 44 batches of the drug irbesartan and quarantine all remaining stock after they were found to contain a substance called ABZT. 

ABZT has been shown in lab tests to cause tumours if people are exposed to it over a long period of time.  

However, the risk posed by the impurity at the levels detected in medicines to date is very low.

Patients on irbesartan are still being advised to take their medication, which reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke, as the dangers of not taking it are higher. 

Britain's medical watchdog said the move was purely precautionary and there was no proof it has caused any harm to patients. 

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Officials say the affected batches, under the brand name Aprovel, consist of more than 1,200 pills distributed since November 2019.

Most of the batches distributed in 2020 but some have been prescribed as recently June this year. 

TIMELINE OF COMMON BLOOD-PRESSURE DRUGS' RECENT RECALLS 

2012 - The blood-pressure medication valsartan is thought to have been contaminated with the cancer-causing, rocket-fuel chemical NDMA as far back as 2012.

European regulators warned last year the medication's main manufacturer in China - Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical - changed its manufacturing process seven years ago, which may have been to blame.

July 5, 2018 - The UK recalled the drug over growing concerns.

Many EU authorities then followed suit.

The European Medicines Agency said it was working to establish how long, and at what levels, patients might have been exposed to NDMA.

July 17 - The US Food and Drug Administration ordered a ban on valsartan's prescription.

July 30 - China's National Health and Family Planning Commission said the drug must not be used for diagnosis or treatment.

January 3, 2019 - The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency recalled thousands of medications containing the blood-pressure drug irbesartan over NDEA fears.

The government-run body issued an alert over four batches of the medication and pulled the products - made by Actavis, now known as Accord - as a 'precautionary measure'.

June 2021 - Pharmacies stocking 31 batches of affected drugs — several different types of irbesartan and losartan — were told to pull them after the cancer-causing impurity was detected

NHS figures indicate more than 2million people are prescribed drugs containing irbesartan in England. 

The drug is prescribed to treat high blood pressure and is prescribed to help prevent heart attacks and strokes in at risk patients. 


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