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Potentially cancer-causing ingredient prompts medication recall

Many residents of Louisiana rely on medications to reduce their blood pressure to help prevent heart attacks and other potentially life-threatening conditions. However, drug manufacturer Teva Pharmaceuticals recently recalled two popular blood pressure reducers because they contain too much of a chemical with the potential to cause cancer

The recall affects drugs containing amlodipine and valsartan, which are often combined in one pill. Teva Pharmaceuticals has recalled combination pills containing amlodipine, valsartan and hydrochlorothiazide in addition to those containing just valsartan and amlodipine.

Of concern is a chemical known as N-nitroso-diethylamine. The valsartan in the pills contains an excessive amount of NDEA, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies as a probable cancerous ingredient.

Even in light of the recall, the Food and Drug Administration advises patients to continue to take the medication until they have a chance to decide on another treatment plan with their doctors, as stopping without any comparable treatment may pose a higher risk of harm to a patient's health.

Last Tuesday's announcement marks the third recall of blood pressure medication in the month of November alone. Mylan India, the manufacturer of the valsartan used in Teva's products, announced a massive recall of 15 blood pressure and heart attack medications just the week before. Patients with questions about the recall can consult their doctors and/or contact Teva directly.

Patients who have taken valsartan for years likely now wonder about their cancer risk. Those who have reason to believe they have suffered harm as a result of taking defective drugs may wish to consult an attorney. 

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