The VA May Be Issuing Carcinogenic Chinese Blood Pressure Meds

We caught this story on MassLive and wouldn’t you know: I’ve been prescribed these medications for years and received my last prescription a couple of weeks ago. One would think with the regularity the Veterans Administration sends out emails to promote themselves and/or local promotional activities, a simple announcement on recalled blood pressure medications that can cause cancer would be on someone’s to-do list.

Obviously, that was too much to expect.

The Food and Drug Administration is alerting health care providers and patients that several versions of a common prescription drug used to treat cardiovascular conditions are part of voluntary recall due to the presence of an “unexpected” chemical “impurity” considered a “probable human carcinogen” in the active pharmaceutical ingredient.

The U.S. recall includes products containing the drug valsartan as an active ingredient supplied by a Chinese company and made by Major Pharmaceuticals, Solco Healthcare and Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries as well as valsartan/hydrochlorothiazide sold by Solco and Teva.
MassLive, 7/16/18

Maybe the problem is that “voluntary” thing because it’s been shown over the years, if the VA doesn’t have to lift a finger to redress something harmful to veterans, feet will be dragged.

Torrent Pharmaceuticals Limited is voluntarily recalling ALL LOTS within expiry of Valsartan/Amlodipine/HCTZ, Valsartan/Amlodipine and Valsartan tablets to the consumer level due to the detection of trace amounts of an unexpected impurity found in an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufactured by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals. The impurity detected in the API is N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which is a substance that occurs naturally in certain foods, drinking water, air pollution, and industrial processes, and has been classified as a probable human carcinogen as per International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classification.
FDA, 8/23/18

Now, while the batch number on my bottles don’t match those on the recall list, it doesn’t mean these meds didn’t come from the other tainted batches yet to be identified. One would think this is pertinent information that needs to be relayed to the American people via a media, however we all know the more-important issues they’re spending their time covering.

More than two dozen other countries have issued similar recalls, raising some concerns about supply. One news report said that there were more than 2.5 million prescriptions for the drugs involved in the recall dispensed in Canada last year.

Ireland said its “precautionary recall” affected some 60,000 patients. The European Medicines Agency began reviewing medicines containing the active substance valsartan supplied by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals, a company in Linhai, China, on July 5.

I have one of each and I’d be willing to bet if I decided to request a refill, it would be processed with little to no warning and as I’ve received ZERO notifications via email or text message about any recall, it can only be assumed that hundreds of thousands of veterans have received prescriptions of these medications to this day without any warning that they are receiving and consuming a “probable human carcinogen”.

The FDA advises concerned patients to check the drug name and company name on the label of their prescription bottle or contact the pharmacy that dispensed the medicine for verification. It says patients should contact their health care professional and continue to take the recalled valsartan-containing medicines until they have a replacement product.

That’s comforting.

Let’s not forget that Chinese-made products have been tainted with everything from lead in toys to nasty byproducts ground into our pet foods. Yes, their products are quite cheap in comparison to their American counterparts, but that’s not going to be an acceptable response to those, including veterans, who may be issued “probable” cancer-causing medications.

My question now is high blood pressure or cancer and what will my VA physician offer as an alternation, that is whenever I can next see her, if she even knows about this, and why must we be the ones to alert them that the medications they prescribe may be dangerous. If they can definitively assure us the medications are safe, that would be great to get on-the-record.

Isn’t better-safe-than-sorry a more responsible approach?

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