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06 Sep 2019

United States health officials are trying to reassure patients there is an extremely low risk from ongoing contamination problems with widely prescribed blood pressure drugs.

Associated Press reports from Washington say that since July, pharmaceutical companies have issued more than 50 medicine recalls due to low levels of a probable cancer-causing chemical found in generic drugs that are taken by millions of Americans.

The affected medications are low-cost versions of lifesaving heart-regulating drugs, designed to allow blood to flow more easily. They are sold as single-ingredient pills and tablets, and also in combination with other drugs.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is struggling to police the industry, which is increasingly relying manufacturing plants in China and India.

Last year, the FDA said that if 8,000 patients took the maximum dose of the drugs for four years, the contamination issue could cause one extra case of cancer over their lifetimes.

But in August this year, the FDA moved to state that the actual risk to patients from the medications was even lower than that.

The agency said patients should continue taking their medication, because the risk of untreated high blood pressure and heart failure “greatly outweighs the potential risk of exposure to trace amounts” of contaminants.

The FDA also noted that 43 blood pressure medications had not been affected by the contamination issues, and that no drug shortages have been reported due to the contamination.


Published: 06 Sep 2019