Here's What You Need to Know About A Nationwide Blood Pressure Medication Recall

The medicine contains a component known to cause cancer.

Fred Bodimer
January 09, 2019 - 11:37 am
Prescription pain RX medication pills spilled out of an amber pharmacy medicine bottle on a pharmacy counter

© Olivier Le Queinec |


ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) — Lots of calls to local pharmacies and doctors offices -- following last week's big recall of some blood pressure medications.

The latest voluntary recall involves different lots of Valsartan, Losartan and Irbesartan -- because they contain trace amounts of a cancer-causing agent. 

"It's not a problem with Valsartan itself," SSM Health cardiologist Dr. Aaron Tang told KMOX's Fred Bodimer. "It's a problem with the manufacturing process at a particular plant. So, someone else's Valsartan made from another plant may be unaffected and therefore, they should continue to take that medication. It's more nuanced than just stopping this particular class of medications."

Dr. Tang explains what's in these tainted medications.

"This particular byproduct of the manufacturing process has been found that, in high levels in animal models, to cause cancerous cells to be growing in the liver. The risk itself is kind of hard to gauge, but it's dose-dependent. So if someone were to ingest a lot of it, they'd develop a risk of cancer."

That's why Tang says it is critical for patients to confirm with their pharmacy that their lot of blood pressure medicine was part of the recall before calling their doctor to seek a substitute. But most importantly, he says don't stop taking the medicine until you have a new one prescribed.