Valsartan molecule structure. Drugs containing valsartan are used to treat patients with high blood pressure to help prevent heart attacks and stroke. (iStock)

Health Canada recalls high blood pressure drugs containing valsartan due to cancer risk

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Health Canada has issued a recall advisory of a commonly used medication to treat high blood pressure because of fears an impurity found in the drugs may cause cancer with long-term exposure.

The recall affects several drugs containing the ingredient valsartan, Health Canada announced Tuesday.

Drugs containing valsartan are used to treat patients with high blood pressure to help prevent heart attacks and stroke.

An impurity, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), was found in the valsartan used in these products, the federal agency said.

The valsartan was supplied by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals. NDMA is a potential human carcinogen, which means that it could cause cancer with long-term exposure.

Health Canada says patients taking the drug should check with their pharmacists to learn if their medicine is being recalled.

But the agency also said that anyone taking medication that contains valsartan should continue to take it unless told to stop by their doctor or pharmacist.

The recall affects five companies:

Affected products

Product name/Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient DIN Strength Lot #
TEVA-VALSARTAN/HCTZ TABLETS PP 30s 02357046 320/25 mg 35212731R
ACT-VALSARTAN 40MG FC TABLETS 100 02337487 40 mg K47338
ACT-VALSARTAN 80MG FC TABLETS 100 02337495 80 mg K45370
ACT-VALSARTAN 80MG FC TABLETS 100 02337495 80 mg K47652
ACT-VALSARTAN 80MG FC TABLETS 100 02337495 80 mg K47653
ACT-VALSARTAN 80MG FC TABLETS 100 02337495 80mg K47654
ACT-VALSARTAN 160MG FC TABLETS 100 02337509 160 mg K39691
ACT-VALSARTAN 160MG FC TABLETS 100 02337509 160 mg K44167
ACT-VALSARTAN 160MG FC TABLETS 100 02337509 160 mg K47657
ACT-VALSARTAN 160MG FC TABLETS 100 02337509 160 mg K47658
ACT-VALSARTAN 320MG FC TABLETS 100 02337517 320 mg K44166
ACT-VALSARTAN 320MG FC TABLETS 100 02337517 320 mg K45371
SANDOZ VALSARTAN 40 MG 02356740 40 mg All lots
SANDOZ VALSARTAN 80 MG 02356759 80 mg All lots
SANDOZ VALSARTAN 160 MG 02356767 160 mg All lots
SANDOZ VALSARTAN 320 MG 02356775 320 mg All lots
SANIS VALSARTAN 40 MG 02366940 40 mg All lots
SANIS VALSARTAN 80 MG 02366959 80 mg All lots
SANIS VALSARTAN 160 MG 02366967 160 mg All lots
SANIS VALSARTIN 320 MG 02366975 320 mg All lots
PRO DOC LIMITEE VALSARTAN 40 MG 02367726 40 mg All lots
PRO DOC LIMITEE VALSARTAN 80 MG 02367734 80 mg All lots
PRO DOC LIMITEE VALSARTAN 160 MG 02367742 160 mg All lots
PRO DOC LIMITEE VALSARTAN 320 MG 02367750 320 mg All lots
SIVEM PHARMACEUTICAL ULC VALSARTAN 40 MG 02384523 40 mg All lots
SIVEM PHARMACEUTICAL ULC VALSARTAN 80 MG 02384531 80 mg All lots
SIVEM PHARMACEUTICAL ULC VALSARTAN 160 MG 02384558 160 mg All lots
SIVEM PHARMACEUTICAL ULC VALSARTAN 320 MG 02384566 320 mg All lots
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17 comments on “Health Canada recalls high blood pressure drugs containing valsartan due to cancer risk
  1. Cathy Hoekstra says:

    Keep me posted cancer is high in our family and did not need this…

  2. David says:

    Someone has a lot of explaining to do!!!!!! Sign me up for the law suit when it happens!

  3. Sylvia Barr says:

    How long is “long term exposure” and what type of cancer would this drug produce. I have been taking Sandovalsartaan for quite a few years. I am now taking Telmisartan, where is this drug manufactured and are the ingredients liable to include cancerous ingredients. The questions asked by others are pertinent and I would like to know the answers also. Where do I find the replies

  4. Kathleen says:

    I am taking Entresto/Valsartan for CHF. It is not on the list as presented so far but who knows if it will also be added at some point? I would like to see all drugs made in Canada use only ingredients from this country as it seems to be extremely difficult to trust any ingredients from foreign countries who don’t care or realize that some are hazardous.
    A question…what is the difference between all of the names for Valsartan? Are they made with different ingredients or by different pharmaceutical companies? Why is it not just called Valsartan and if it’s generic then why not specify that fact? I realize that the drug business is big money but the well-being of the consumer shouldn’t be put at risk when these drugs are supposed to be saving lives.

  5. Margaret Gain says:

    I was contacted by my Physician’s office and told my Doctor was ordering a new BP medication due to the fact Valsartan which I am currently on was being recalled. When I went to the pharmacy to pick up my new medication and return the old I was told the dosage I was on was not recalled. Who to believe. And is it only certain batches that are supposed to be contaminated? When I looked this up online it says that the USA knew there was a problem 3 years ago but the public didn’t need to be notified. So, it this new or not? What testing does Canada do on our medications? How can we trust that the medications we are being prescribed are actually helping and not an actual health hazard?

  6. Andrea Gibbons says:

    Should you get a refund for the medication that you take back because of the recall

  7. Terra cole says:

    So is anyone planning a class action law-suite?? My husband takes this too

  8. Leah Yanto says:

    I have been taking this medication for a number of years. How is the chance of having cancer? Why are we buying drugs from China? Are their any health standards equivalent to Canadian standards? Will I be tested for any types of cancer due to having taken Valsarton for a number of years? Who will contact me with explanations addressing my concerns?

  9. Terry Mooney says:

    NDMA has been known to be present in most Canadian domestic water systems. In 2011, Health Canada established a drinking water guideline at a maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) of 0.04 μg/L (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/water-eau/sum_guide-res_recom/index-eng.php#t2), based on an assessment by the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water (CDW). As a result, regulators may require communities and other water supply owners to monitor NDMA concentrations in water treatment and distribution systems.

  10. Yvonne harding says:

    My mom has been taking Valsartan for years and is now in the hospital because she had bladder cancer. She’s had three surgeries and they finally had to remove her bladder. These three surgeries were done in a 1 month period and she is now so weak that we have to teach her how to walk again. So why did it take so long for this medication to be recalled and why are we buying this crap from China?

  11. Charlene Simon says:

    Why are we not told when we purchase prescription drugs that they are generic from China?
    When will Health Canada be publishing a list of years, suppliers, doseage, and DIN numbers for the duration of the NDMA addition to our prescriptions?
    When will information and testing be available to patients who have used the contaminated products?
    This must be dealt with immediately to address the concerns raised.

  12. Alan Briston says:

    Do the ndma problems go back in time for or are they recently produced products only.

  13. Doreen Beals says:

    When was it discovered Valsarton DIN 02356759 contains carcinogenic particles? I have been taking this medication for a number of years. How great is the chance of having cancer? Why are we buying drugs from China? Are their health standards equivalent to Canadian standards? Will I be tested for any types of cancer due to having taken Valsarton for a number of years? Who will contact me with explanations addressing my concerns?

    • Margaret Gain says:

      Check further online. When I checked yesterday I found out that in the USA one Doctor said there was a problem with Valsartan 3 years ago. He wanted to public to be advised however it was decided the public didn’t need to know. Was this the same issue? Who knows but it did say that one had a 24 % increased chance of getting lung cancer. I too have been taking this medication for years. So how does that make one feel?

  14. STANLEY KERSYS says:

    WHY ARE WE BUYING DRUGS MADE IN CHINA, CAN ANYONE IN HEALTH CANADA EXPLAIN THIS TO CANADIANS

    • Kd says:

      because they get cheaper work done, the drug companies have to make big profit off you. Why do we buy ANYTHING from china? Because the government likes to keep their corporate friends happy. It’s not about you it’s about their rich friends. Doesn’t matter that it can kill you. When people realize the government isn’t there to serve you but collect taxes, pay their fat pensions and make sure the rich get richer then people will have woken up.