Common blood pressure drug recalled over cancer-causing chemical fears

BATCHES of a common blood pressure drug have been recalled due to a chemical substance being present in the pill.

A total of 44 batches of irbesartan are being pulled back from pharmacies and wholesalers as a precautionary measure, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said.

Irbesartan is used to treat high blood pressure, in turn preventing heart attacks and strokes.

These drugs are also used in patients who have recently had a heart attack or are living with heart failure.

Experts testing the pill in labs found the presence of chemical substance AZBT.

Long-term exposure to the chemical, and consuming 'above acceptable limits' may potentially increase the risk of cancer.

Experts are however keen to highlight that there is no UK or international evidence that this substance has caused any harm to patients.

If you have the pill, experts say you should not stop taking it, as stopping taking them is greater than the risk associated with short-term exposure to ABZT that the pills already have.

Around a quarter of adults in the UK, 14.4 million people, are thought to have high blood pressure.

Of these, under 10 million have been diagnosed buy their GP – with millions of people living with untreated high blood pressure.

Dr Alison Cave, MHRA Chief Safety Officer said that experts are working with international counterparts to ensure patient safety.

“Patient safety is at the heart of everything we do. This recall is a precautionary measure to prevent further exposure to AZBT above the acceptable safety limit. There is no evidence that this substance has caused any harm to patients. “

"It’s vitally important that you continue to take your medicine but do contact your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.  

 “It’s important that healthcare professionals check their stock to quarantine and return these batches to their supplier using their supplier’s approved process. 

“The MHRA has asked companies to implement control measures to ensure that the levels of the substance are at or below the required level", she said.

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