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Blood pressure medication recalled over cancerous substance contamination fears

Medicines in short supply

By Isabel Shaw

18 Jun 2021

The UK’s medicines watchdog has recalled certain batches of irbesartan-containing and losartan-containing products, made by three separate manufacturers, over concerns that the drugs have come into contact with a potentially cancerous substance.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) yesterday (17 June) recalled the products as a ‘precautionary measure’ to ‘prevent further exposure,’ following contamination with 5-(4’-(azidomethyl)-[1,1’-biphenyl]-2yl)-1H-tetrazole.

The identified substance can ‘potentially increase the risk of cancer over time,’ the MHRA said.

The affected products, which come from Bristol Laboratories Limited, Brown and Burk UK Ltd and Teva UK Limited, can be viewed here.

The recall is for pharmacies and wholesalers and is not a patient-level recall.

Irbesartan-containing and losartan-containing medicinal products are often used to treat high blood pressure. Patients who are taking the affected medications are advised to consult their health team before stopping taking it, the MHRA said.

The medicines watchdog said this is an ‘ongoing issue’ with these ‘types of products’ after two previous recalls in 2018 and 2019. The body said it is working with other medicines regulators on the problem.

Dr June Raine, MHRA chief executive, said: ‘We’re recalling batches of certain sartan-containing products as a precautionary measure while we continue our investigation. It’s important that healthcare professionals check their stock to quarantine and return these batches.’

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