June 19, 2019 | 11:16am
| Updated June 19, 2019 | 2:12pm
A web-based drug retailer has notified the Food and Drug Administration that a chemical found in a common blood pressure medication may cause cancer.
In a citizen petition filed to the FDA last week, Valisure, an internet pharmacy operating in 37 states, revealed high levels of dimethylformamide in the hypertension medication valsartan, produced by at least five common drug manufacturers. Dimethylformamide, or DMF, has been associated with cancer and other illnesses.
The drug store urged the FDA to recall valsartan products and consider officially lowering the allowable level of DMF from 8,800,000 nanograms to less than 1,000 nanograms.
FDA spokesman Jeremy Kahn is telling consumers his agency will evaluate Valisure’s claim, but to continue taking their blood pressure medication unless their doctor recommends otherwise. Talking to CNN, Kahn also notes, “The amounts of DMF being reported are more than 100 times less than those determined by international standards as the level of concern to patients.”
Since July 2018, several other blood pressure drugs, called angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), have been recalled following the discovery of other problematic chemicals, including carcinogens N-Nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA), N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) and N-Nitroso-N-methyl-4-aminobutyric acid (NMBA).
Those concerned about an ARB they are taking, such as valsartan, losartan or irbesartan, can reach out to the pharmacists and nurses at FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research by calling (855) 543-3784 or emailing [email protected]