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HEALTH ALERT: Blood pressure drug substitutes are available for patients affected by recalls

Doctors say patients with high blood pressure should pay attention to and be ready to act on the trickle of drug recalls involving a commonly prescribed type of blood pressure medication – but warned against dropping a medicine without consulting a physician or pharmacist.

The Food and Drug Administration announced the recall of several versions of the valsartan in July over concerns that the drugs contained a possible cancer-causing impurity.

A handful of other recalls have followed, including Teva Pharmaceuticals’ recall this week of two combination drugs that contain valsartan and other ingredients.

Several pharmaceutical companies have announced recalls of versions of valsartan, irbesartan and losartan. The affected drugs could contain an impurity called N-nitroso-diethylamine, a possible human carcinogen, according to the FDA.

Consumers can view a complete list of FDA updates on the recalls here.

The recalled drugs are part a large class of drugs called angiotensin II receptor blockers. ARBs work by widening or relaxing blood vessels, thus lowering a person’s blood pressure.

ARBs and another class of blood-pressure drugs called angiotensin converting-enzyme inhibitors, or ACE inhibitors, are often the first drugs doctors recommend to lower a patient’s blood pressure, according to Dr. Robert M. Carey, dean emeritus at the University of Virginia College of Medicine.

D&C – Rochester:
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