Valsartan is a medication prescribed to treat and manage high blood pressure and heart failure. There are several brand names and generic forms of the drug made and sold by different pharmaceutical companies. There have now been three recalls of the drug triggered by impurities found in it. Several lots of the drug were contaminated with cancer-causing compounds, and now there are multiple class action lawsuits being filed against the manufacturers by patients who were unknowingly put at risk.
What is Valsartan?
The first brand name version of valsartan was Diovan, made by Novartis and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2002. Valsartan is an angiotensin II receptor agonist, a type of drug that is used mostly to treat high blood pressure, but also for heart failure and heart attacks. Valsartan acts in the body to prevent blood vessels from narrowing. This increases blood flow and reduces blood pressure. Known side effects of valsartan are dizziness, nausea, and headaches.
Since July of 2018 there have been three voluntary recalls of lots of valsartan. On July 13 the FDA issued a statement warning healthcare professionals and patients that several valsartan products had been found to be contaminated with NDMA, or N-nitrosodimethylamine. NDMA has been classified as a substance that is a probably carcinogen. In other words, exposure to it can cause or increase the risk of developing cancer. The initial recall, and a second recall for the same reason, involved multiple lots of valsartan from several companies:
- Major Pharmaceuticals
- Solco Healthcare
- Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd.
- Bryant Ranch Prepack Inc.
- NuCare Pharmaceuticals Inc.
- Northwind Pharmaceuticals
- Proficient Rx
- Lake Erie Medical
- J. Harkins Company Inc.
In August and September of 2018 second and third voluntary recalls were announced by the FDA. Torrent Pharmaceuticals was recalling several lots of valsartan due to another contaminating chemical, N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA), which is also carcinogenic.
In its announcements and warnings the FDA stated that patients on valsartan should not stop taking their medication. This is because valsartan is used to treat very serious and potentially life-threatening conditions, and stopping use could cause severe complications or even death. Patients are urged to talk to their doctors who can give them an alternative medication to take.
Class Action Lawsuits
Since the announcements and recalls have been made over valsartan there have been three class action lawsuits filed in New York, New Jersey, and most recently Missouri. The plaintiffs in these lawsuits are requesting that the companies involved repay patients for the tainted drugs they bought. Experts believe that later in the year or early in 2019 there could be lawsuits over cancer diagnoses. The contaminants found in valsartan could cause patients to develop liver, kidney, stomach, colorectal, pancreatic, or other types of cancers.
If you took valsartan and your drug was included in the lots that were recalled you could become part of a class action lawsuit. Drug manufacturers sold patients contaminated products. Victims are expected to get their money back on those purchases, but more serious consequences could come later. If you experienced any side effects from valsartan or you are diagnosed with cancer after taking the tainted drug, contact a lawyer to find out what your rights are and your options in filing a lawsuit.