Health Canada expands recall of some heart, high blood pressure drugs

Health Canada has added eight more products to its recall of certain medications containing valsartan, a drug used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure.  

The affected valsartan was manufactured by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals in China and may contain an impurity called NDMA (N-nitrosodimethylamine). NDMA is classified as a "probable human carcinogen," meaning scientists believe it could increase the risk of cancer if used above acceptable levels over a long period of time, according to Health Canada.  

There is now a total of 36 valsartan medications on Health Canada's recall list, made by companies including Teva Canada, Sandoz, Sanis, Pro Doc Ltée and Sivem Pharmaceuticals.  The initial recall was issued in July. 

However, several medications containing valsartan — including some made by Sandoz, Sanis and Sivem — are not included in the recall, as the ingredient was not produced at the Zhejiang Huahai facility.

Health Canada said the recall is a precautionary measure, and that patients taking the affected medications should contact their health-care provider to discuss options, which could include substituting a different valsartan product not affected by the recall, or doctors prescribing a different type of medication. 

The agency emphasized that no one should stop taking their valsartan medication unless told to by their health-care provider.

Health Canada also said it would be assessing "how much NDMA patients may have been exposed to and for how long," noting that the agency believes the impurity began occurring when Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals changed its manufacturing processes in 2012.

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