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Recalled blood pressure medication had traces of carcinogen

January 11, 2019

When your doctor recommends a drug to you, you take it because you trust your doctor’s opinion. After all, your doctor has undoubtedly looked over the research and determined that the drug is safe and could benefit you. They likely also know the reputation of certain medications, as well as the reputation of the pharmaceutical company that developed the drug.

Unfortunately, drugmakers don’t always adhere to the most rigorous standards. While your doctor may have been right about the potential benefits of the drug, the medication itself could end up having impurities or other issues that lead to other medical issues for you as the patient.

In this sort of situation, your doctor would have no way of knowing the risk that a drug could pose to their patients, especially if a patient receives a generic substitution at the pharmacy because of insurance protocol. Instead, it is the drug company itself that is responsible for the potential injuries to others.

Sometimes, drug safety safeguards don’t work

Companies spend millions in research to create a new drug. Receiving approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market a new drug takes a significant investment. That is why pharmaceutical companies receive a patent that allows them to be the sole producer of compounds they create and test. However, eventually other drug companies can make generic versions of the drug.

Generic drugs are excellent for consumers, as they push prices down to a reasonable rate that reflects manufacturing costs, not necessarily researching overhead. They also drive companies to continue researching for new cures and medications instead of relying on the same lineup indefinitely.

However, not all generic drugs are as excellent as their brand-name counterparts. Sometimes, companies take chemical shortcuts that could cause issues for patients. These could include changing the way a drug is formulated or simply skipping purity and dosage testing in individual batches, leading to inconsistent medication.

Blood pressure recall highlights the dangers of cutting production costs

In the case of this most recent drug recall, the drug in question is a blood pressure medication. Multiple generic blood pressure medications are under a recall that has been ongoing since July of this year. This recall involves valsartan, pills with both valsartan and amlodipine and pills that combine valsartan and hydrochlorothiazide.

The reason is that these drugs may contain trace amounts of N-nitrosodiethylamine, a known carcinogen which is a byproduct of the manufacturing process for the active ingredient. Manufacturing issues led to contamination, which could increase the cancer risk among people who take these drugs.

Individuals who become sick as a result of contaminated or poorly tested medications may have grounds to seek compensation from the drugs’ manufacturers. In this case, only time will tell if many individuals must seek compensation for cancers caused by the blood pressure medication or if the recall was timely enough to prevent any widespread harm.