News that multiple batches of pharmaceutical products containing the active ingredient Valsartan have been withdrawn has caused concern among patients, Phileleftheros reported on Friday.
Valsartan is an angiotensin II receptor blocker mainly used for treatment of high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. The active ingredient Valsatran which was used for these batches was found to include the toxic by-product N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) which is highly toxic and a known carcinogen.
The Pharmaceutical Services of the Ministry of Health have advised patients to remain calm since there is no danger from NDMA unless a person is regularly exposed to it over a long period of time. A spokesman told Phileleftheros that patients taking this type of medication should not quit but should visit their doctor as soon as possible so that a replacement drug can be prescribed..
A list of the brand names of the withdrawn drugs was uploaded on the Pharmaceutical Services’ website. A list of other available drugs of the same therapeutic class has also been publicised and sent to health professionals. Doctors and pharmacists working in both the public and private sector have been briefed on the need for the withdrawal of said drugs. In public hospitals, patients can visit their doctors without an appointment to plan out an alternative treatment plan. Patients who obtain their medicine from privately owned pharmacies can call on their pharmacists for guidance.
The Pharmaceutical Services in cooperation with the European Medicines Agency and competent authorities of EU member states are keeping a close eye on the issue and may also take additional action.