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Why is the drug valsartan being recalled?

As the Food and Drug Administration continues its investigation into a popular medication called valsartan, doctors in New York and other cities are concerned about getting the word out to patients that the drug has been recalled. Doctors prescribed the drug to an estimated 3 million hypertension patients throughout the country, Newsday reports, who may have a supply that doesn't expire for several months still.

Another issue that may hamper the process of notification is the inability of unsophisticated software to search medical records by patient name, condition or medication brand and production data. Adding to these issues is the concern that tainted medications may have been on the market since 2012 and the contamination was uncovered just recently.

Six different manufacturers issued recalls of valsartan in July due to the possibility of contamination with a cancer-causing compound known as n-nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA. This compound is a component of rocket fuel and a byproduct of certain industrial processes, such as the manufacture of pesticides. NDMA taints drinking water and may also contaminate food; the Environmental Protection Agency considers it a likely cause of cancer in people.

Doctors find valsartan is a good drug that works well in controlling high blood pressure. Although it is not an ingredient in the medication itself, the trace amounts of NDMA found in valsartan calls into question the manufacturing processes that made the contamination possible. That is the focus of the FDA's investigation into the drug and a concern going forward as global trade of the raw ingredients used in prescription drugs continues to grow.

If you or someone you know takes valsartan, which is widely known as the brand name Diavan, consult your doctor as soon as possible. There are many products that use valsartan, and they are not all under recall; only those that can be connected to ingredients produced by specific companies overseas are in question.

The information in this article is general and is not intended as legal advice.

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