What Are Your Rights? FDA Expands Blood Pressure Drug Recall

Man: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.

Interviewer: Pharmaceutical companies and drug makers have issued multiple recalls recently after it was discovered that a number of medications used to treat high blood pressure were found to have a cancer-causing impurity. The FDA warns patients using any of the drugs included in the recall that they should contact their doctor before stopping the use. Now, CBS6 viewer, Janice Stefanski wrote in saying she was switched to one of the medications just after the last recall. There’s her comment right there on your screen. Here to help us understand this issue and the right that you’re entitled to is partner Rosemarie Bogdan from the law firm of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Rosemarie, welcome back.

Rosemarie: Nice to be here.

Interviewer: Thank you for being here. So let’s talk about the specific drugs that are apart of this recall.

Rosemarie: Well, the specific drugs that are apart of the recall are called the sartan class, and they’re high blood and congestive heart failure medications. And the big ones are valsartan, losartan, and irbesartan. But there was also a recent recall just last week that involved Zantac with the same type of impurity in it.

Interviewer: All right. So, you mentioned the impurity. What exactly is that impurity?

Rosemarie: Well, the impurities in the medications that are so concerning are nitrosamines. Now, you might have heard about nitrosamines before. So with regard to smoked meats and fish, etc. If you go to the grocery store you might be looking for the pack of bacon that says, “Nitrate-free.” Well, that’s because of the concern about nitrosamines and ingesting them.

Interviewer: So, you know, we showed the comment from one of our CBS6 viewers. Is there a cause for concern at this point if you have been taking any of these medications?

Rosemarie: There’s always a cause for concern if you’re taking one of the medications that have had been recalled because the nitrosamines in the medications were well above the acceptable safe daily limit for ingestion. So, the acceptable safe daily limit is .96 micrograms. Now, to give you an idea of what that is, a grain of sand is 11,000 micrograms. So what’s safe is .96 micrograms. Some of these drugs had up to 20 micrograms in them.

Interviewer: Wow.

Rosemarie: So that is certainly something to be concerned about, but everyone has to go and check to make sure that if their medication they were issued… They weren’t all recalled.

Interviewer: Right.

Rosemarie: Right?

Interviewer: Right.

Rosemarie: If they had the recalled medication. And because these are generics, and you could go to the pharmacy each month it could be filled by a different manufacturer. So just because you had one month that was recalled doesn’t mean you had another month that was recalled. So it’s really a fill-by-fill analysis, and whether or not you took the recalled medication.

Interviewer: Okay, really quickly before we run out of time here. What is the next step? What should viewers be doing now?

Rosemarie: Well, if they’re concerned to certainly go to the pharmacy. All the pharmacies have the codes. So, they know what the manufacturer was of the generic drug that they were given, and they can first start there. You have to know whether or not they even had the recalled products. So, but I could understand why a viewer would certainly be concerned if they get a recall letter in the mail about a medication that they take daily to try to maintain optimal health.

Interviewer: Exactly. Rosemarie, thank you so much. We, of course, appreciate your expertise on this topic.

Rosemarie: You’re more than welcome.