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Worldwide blood pressure medicine recall expanding

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - One of the biggest medicine recalls just got bigger. Millions more across the globe are now being impacted by the Valsartan recall.

As a result, the scramble is on for patients who used that drug. They're trying to find suitable alternatives to that blood pressure medicine.

The discovery of tainted Valsartan has now resulted in a worldwide recall.

Back when the recall was first announced a few weeks ago, it just affected the generic version of the drug sold this country to combat hypertension.

“The FDA expanded the recall to three new manufacturers,” said pharmacist Erick Engel of Raleigh’s Wellness and Compounding pharmacy. As a result, he said the extensive list of affected drug makers has grown even further.

“It now includes combinations of drugs which use Valsartan,” Engel said.

Most of the raw material for generic version drugs comes from overseas — either China or India, where Engel said it’s more difficult to control quality.

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In the case of Valsartan, he said many different drug makers all used the same source material from China to make their generics.

“There’s going to be a shortage in the marketplace for this particular product in the near future,” he said.

So what can consumers do? Engel said there are close to 60 alternatives available. Taken in various doses and quantities, those alternatives can do the same job.

“Among the more common replacements are Ibesartan, Losartan, and Lisinopril, which is in a different class,” he said.

But, Engel said that, because those replacements act differently, users and their doctor need to monitor them carefully.

“It may take a little bit of time to see the full results of the medication, and there’s a chance we may not have great control of the symptoms or have too much control and have side effects,” he said.

Diovan, the brand name version of the drug, is unaffected by the recall, but it’s a lot more expensive and insurance providers may balk at paying for it.

To keep up with the expanded recall and changing nature of this situation, use this link to the FDA.


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