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13 July 2018, 02:59 | Silvia Roy
The recall is on medication containing valsartan which is used to treat high blood pressure. Courtesy of Hope Litoff
Valsartan, a drug widely used to control blood pressure is being recalled in several countries around the world because of its chemical ingredient possibly linking to cancer. The circular has also directed that all healthcare practitioners and doctors should not prescribe or dispense the affected products and also advises patients to not discontinue use of the medicine unless they consult with the doctor to prescribe other alternatives registered with the Ministry. The Ministry of Health and Welfare said the 178,536 patients will be able to ask for new prescriptions or get new pills at pharmacies to replace 115 drugs containing Chinese-made Valsartan.
Drugs for high blood pressure sit on the shelf of a pharmacy in Seoul on Monday. The company says that "no other Sandoz or Novartis products, even those that may contain valsartan, are affected by the recall". In connection with this, Swiss multinational pharmaceutical company Novartis informed the Ministry that their products containing Valsartan-Diovan, Co-Diovan Entresto and Exforge-are not impacted because these products do not contain the active ingredient from an external supplier, where the active ingredient was manufactured in a Novartis site in Ireland and Switzerland.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said that it is reviewing medicines containing the active substance valsartan that is supplied by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals, a company in Linhai, China.
Because high blood pressure is a chronic disorder that requires long-term treatment, concerns abound that Korea's six million patients that depend on hypertension drugs may have already been exposed to carcinogens for an extended duration. Of 484,682 kilograms of Valsartan imported over the last three years, only 13,770 kilograms, or 2.8 percent contain ingredients from China. He said the government needs to devise a system to alert patients if unforeseen problems arise concerning their medicine.
According to Health Canada recommendations, patients that take that drug should talk with their pharmacists to know if their medicine was recalled.
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