SOUTHAVEN, Miss. — Valsartan is a medicine used to treat high blood pressure and so much of it has been recalled over the past six months, the Food and Drug Administration keeps a running list of products affected and those that aren’t.
In addition to Valsartan, certain lots and counts of Losartan and Irbesartan have been pulled.
It’s all because the drugs contain trace amounts of a chemical that could cause cancer.
Dr. Arie Szatkowski is the Director of Cardiovascular Services at Stern Cardiovascular Center in Southaven.
He explained, “All the pharmacies have already removed the tainted batches off their shelves and they’ve replaced them with ones that are safe to take.”
So the next step, Szatkowski says, is for patients to find out whether they’ve been taking one of the recalled medicines.
A simple check of the FDA’s website can answer that question, followed by a call to the doctor or pharmacist.
“You can simply switch it to another same drug if available, or there are several other drugs in that class … and your doctor could switch you to one of those.”
Dr. Szatkowski says what patients shouldn’t do is panic and stop taking their medicine all together, because despite the scary sound of the word cancer in a recall, he says skipping the meds can be even more dangerous.
“Folks who take it for high blood pressure can end up with a certain spike in their blood pressure which can lead to increasing risk of stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure, damage to the kidneys and these are things that are immediate,” explained Szatkowski.
Szatkowski says some of the medications involved in the recall are also used to treat congestive heart failure, as well as some diabetes patients, so it’s important for people to find an alternative.
According the the FDA’s website, the agency hasn’t received any reports of adverse affects related to the recall.