Dangerous Drugs

Common blood pressure medication linked to cancer

November 1, 2021

Valsartan, a common drug used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure, has been recalled over NDMA contamination. NDMA is a probable human carcinogen that was once used as an ingredient in rocket fuel and is currently actually used to create cancer in rats for cancer research.

For many years, Valsartan was a widely prescribed drug used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a worldwide recall involving medications containing Valsartan after studies showed that it could potentially produce a cancer-causing agent known as NDMA.

NDMA, short for N-Nitrosodimethylamine, is a probable human carcinogen that was once used as an ingredient in rocket fuel and is currently actually used to create cancer in rats for cancer research. In fact, NDMA is not currently produced in pure form or commercially used in the United States, except for research purposes. Valsartan originally came on the market in 1996 under the brand name Diovan. It is now sold by more than 30 different companies under a variety of generic names.

Valsartan treats high blood pressure by blocking angiotensin, a chemical that narrows one’s blood vessels. Valsartan keeps the vessels open and more relaxed, allowing for easier blood flow. High blood pressure can cause one’s heart to work harder than normal, possibly leading to heart disease, heart attack, kidney disease and stroke. However, even these potential benefits may be outweighed by other concerns. Even short-term exposure to NDMA can cause liver damage (such as liver fibrosis and scarring). Long-term exposure can increase the risk of liver, kidney, and lung tumors. In addition to these complications, symptoms of NDMA overexposure include headaches, fever, nausea, jaundice, vomiting and abdominal cramps.

Though Valsartan products were available to anyone with high blood pressure, VA Hospitals prescribed Valsartan at a very high rate, possibly affecting our vets with tainted Valsartan.

Current state of Valsartan litigation

As of this writing, there have not been any large groups of settlements involving Valsartan and its link to cancer. However, more than 950 Valsartan cases have been consolidated in New Jersey Federal Court in a process known as Multi-District Litigation. Main Street Law Firm will continue to update you on the status of this litigation.

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