What you need to know about the Valsartan recall following cancer concerns

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a voluntary recall of several medications containing Valsartan this month following concerns about an unintentional ingredient that could cause cancer.

Valsartan is primarily used to treat high blood pressure and not all Valsartan products have been recalled. Recalled medications contain N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).

The FDA calls NDMA an "impurity" which has been classified as a probable human carcinogen. 

Valsartan is the active ingredient in the recalled medications and, according to an FDA press release, "the presence of NDMA was unexpected and is thought to be related to changes in the way the active substance was manufactured."

According to the FDA, people who have been taking the recalled medications are encouraged to continue taking it until their doctor of pharmacist provides them with a replacement. 

"It's not going to cause cancer by taking it for two or three days while you sort this out," Dr. William Curry, a UAB primary care physician, said. "So it's a cumulative effect, meaning it's the dose over time and how long you're taking it."

He said the health risks of not treating high blood pressure are more immediate than continuing to take the recalled medication for only a few more days until a patient can get a replacement.

Here is a list of the recalled products, according to the FDA's website:


Valsartan Major Pharmaceuticals
Valsartan Solco Healthcare
Valsartan Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd.
Valsartan/Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) Solco Healthcare
Valsartan/Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd.


If you are unsure whether your medication is included in the recall, or if you'd like more information on other recalls, click here.

If you need to report a bad reaction to any Valsartan-containing products, click here.

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