Health Canada has added eight additional products for recalling certain medications containing valsartan, a medicine used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure.
The affected valsartan is manufactured by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals in China and may contain an impurity called NDMA (N-nitrosodimethylamine). NDMA is classified as a "probably carcinogenic to humans", which means that scientists think it can increase the risk of cancer if it is used above acceptable levels over a long period, according to Health Canada.
There are now a total of 36 valsartan drugs on the Health Canada recall list, made by companies such as Teva Canada, Sandoz, Sanis, Pro Doc Ltée and Sivem Pharmaceuticals. The first recall was issued in July.
However, several drugs containing valsartan – including some made by Sandoz, Sanis and Sivem – are not included in the recall because the ingredient was not produced at the Zhejiang Huahai plant.
Health Canada said that recall is a precautionary measure and that patients taking the affected drugs should contact their healthcare provider to discuss options, including replacement of another valsartan product that has not been affected by recall, or physicians with a different type prescribe medicine.
& # 39; Do not stop with medication & # 39;
A spokesman for the Canadian Pharmacists Association said that patients, although worried about recall, should not stop taking their medication.
"There is particular concern about blood pressure medication," said Phil Emberley, who is also a practicing pharmacist. "Do not stop taking your medication without first talking, because your blood pressure could rise and that could cause a whole series of problems … blood pressure can lead to a stroke or heart attack."
Emberley said it is important that patients contact their healthcare provider to determine if the medicine they are taking is actually recalled.
"I think it's important that people are aware of this," said Emberley. "If the medicine happens to be recalled, there are other options: there are similar medicines in the same class that are going to do the same thing."
Health Canada said it judges "how many NDMA patients may have been exposed to and for how long" because the agency believes the impurity began when Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals changed its production processes in 2012.