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Valsartan: Another carcinogenic chemical found in commonly used blood pressure medicine



Online Pharmacy Valisure has discovered another carcinogenic chemical in blood pressure pills made by companies, including Novartis, according to a petition to the US Food and Drug Administration. The administration to the FDA on Thursday involves dimethylformamide, or DMF, a solvent detected at the heart of the drug valsartan, according to Valisure. New Haven, Connecticut-based pharmacy operation requested that the FDA reduce how much DMF is allowed in medicine and to remind valsartan to keep high levels of DMF.

Several versions of generic valsartan have been recalled since last year, where the chemical N-nitrosodimethylamine or NDMA was found in a Chinese-made version of valsartan as a drug used for decades to treat hypertension.

The FDA in March said the impurities found in the recalled drugs may have been the result of chemical reactions occurring in the drug process or the recycling of materials such as solvents.

The FDA issues more extensive recall of valsartan cardiovascular drugs to possible carcinogens

The FDA will review Valisurey's findings, an agency spokesman told CBS MoneyWatch. Consumers should continue to take their blood pressure medication, whether it has been withdrawn before they can consult their physician under the regulatory body.

"The risk of abrupt discontinuation of the use of these important drugs far exceeds the low risk that our researchers may consider associated with continuing the drug until the patient's physician or pharmacist provides a safe replacement or other treatment option," stated FDA spokesman.

The World Health Organization classified DMF as a likely carcinogen last year.

The FDA does not routinely test drugs and counts manufacturers to ensure their products are safe and effective.

Novartis, who makes Diovan, a brand name version of the valsartan, said that it generally does not use DMF to make its drugs and information from its vendors showed that they do not.

Having said that, "Novartis currently cannot completely rule out the possibility that traces of DMF (within limits) may have been present in materials from other drug suppliers", a drugmaker spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch.


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