Valsartan is an angiotensin-II-receptor antagonist used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure), recent heart attack, and heart failure.
Health authorities in the United Kingdom on Thursday urged pharmacies to yank heart medicines containing valsartan, which are being recalled in Europe after it came to light that they may have been tainted with a carcinogen at a Chinese factory.
However, it is important for people using the medicines "not to interrupt" their treatment, and the ministry recommended patients consult their doctor or pharmacist with any questions.
"This active substance is used in a number of medicines marketed in Europe", the regulator said. It is also sometimes prescribed after a heart attack.
National authorities across the European Union are now recalling medicines containing valsartan supplied by Zhejiang Huahai while a review investigating levels of NDMA is undertaken. The review was triggered after the company detected an impurity, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a substance classified as "probable cancerogen". The medicines are being recalled as a precaution after information emerged that an impurity. At this time, a precautionary recall of implicated products is the most appropriate action to protect patient health.
"If you are taking any of the affected valsartan products, it is vital that you do not stop taking your medication but you should get in touch with a doctor or healthcare professional as soon as possible".
In addition to working closely with the European regulatory network on the investigation, the HPRA is informing all stakeholders including the Department of Health, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI), the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) and other healthcare professionals of this ongoing regulatory action.