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Could your blood pressure medication be putting you at risk of cancer?

That’s the concern that led to the recall of three common drugs used to treat high blood pressure. After tests indicated that some valsartan medications contained traces of N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA), a suspected carcinogen, Mylan Pharmaceuticals has been forced to recall 104 lots of pills. The recalled drugs included valsartan tablets and two types of combination drugs. One combo drug included valsartan and hydrochlorothiazide and the other was a combo of valsartan and amlodipine. Neither amlodipine nor hydrochlorothiazide stand-alone drugs are affected by the recall.

Authorities have been concerned that not all of the potentially-contaminated valsartan is making it back to pharmacies for the recall. While the recall started in July, there are worries that many patients — especially those that receive several months’ supply at once — are holding onto their medications because they’re afraid that they won’t be able to find a suitable replacement. Some may be willing to take their chances with the contaminated drug versus going without their blood pressure medication and risking a heart attack or stroke.

If your blood pressure medication has been recalled, here’s what you should know:

  • It’s not safe to simply stop your medication. Doing so can increase the risk that you’ll have a serious adverse reaction.
  • Your doctor may be willing to prescribe a substitute medication without an office visit. You should contact your prescriber’s office immediately to ask about a replacement.
  • There are medications available that can be used a substitute. Your pharmacist should be able to tell you what comparable drug is available through your insurance.
  • Once the issue with the contaminated drug supply is resolved, you’ll be able to return to your regular medication.
  • If you aren’t sure if your medication is part of the recall, ask your pharmacist. Take the bottle with you when you go.

Dangerous and defective drugs are a major concern for consumers. While many are caught before they cause serious harm, others slip through the safety measures designed to keep them out of patients’ hands. If you’ve been injured by a defective drug, it might be wise to talk to an experienced attorney about your situation.