The last few weeks have seen a rash of additional recalls of the blood pressure medicine Valsartan, with three separate recalls happening in one week. Lest one think that multiple recalls in a week are just an anomaly, there were two others in the week before or after.
Since last summer, there have been over 20 recalls pertaining to Valsartan or some other blood pressure medicine, although some of this count includes expansions of recalls already in effect. This blog has reported on some of these prior recalls.
The problem with the drug appears to be in the manufacturing process. Specifically, some samples of Valsartan include impurities, that is stray chemical compounds that are not supposed to be in the medicine if it is properly manufactured. These impurities have a link to certain types of cancer.
Although the federal Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, is describing the risk for getting cancer as slight, it is still encouraging patients using Valsartan to consider changing medications as soon as one can safely do so without causing significant problems with his or her blood pressure.
The FDA at present believes that the carcinogenic impurities in the drugs happen for one of two reasons. First, there could be improper environmental factors in play during the manufacturing process. This can happen when a manufacturing process is not done strictly by the book, perhaps because the manufacturer is trying to save time or money. In a similar vein, the FDA has also suggested that manufacturers re-using manufacturing materials, such as the same chemical solvents, could be causing impurities.
Hopefully, the FDA will be proven right that relatively few people, if any, will actually get cancer because of these drugs. However, those who have taken this medicine and believe they have been injured as a result should consider filing a medical product liability claim.