Valsartan scandal: take hypertension therapy seriously!
A few weeks ago it became known that certain batches of the antihypertensive drug valsartan are contaminated with a carcinogenic substance. Medicines containing this active ingredient were subsequently recalled in numerous countries. Health experts in Germany are now warning against ending blood pressure therapy on your own. Patients should check with the pharmacy or doctor if their preparation is affected.
Medications contaminated with carcinogenic substances
In recent weeks, the Valsartan recall has caused great unrest in numerous countries. It had become known that certain batches of the active ingredient were contaminated with a carcinogenic substance. The German Hypertension League (DHL) now fears that the valsartan scandal may lead to many patients with high blood pressure simply no longer taking their medication.
Do not simply stop the blood pressure lowering
The fear of cancer is great and some people may come to the wrong conclusion that they would rather do without the blood pressure lowerers.
But that is a fatal mistake, the German Hypertension League wrote in a message.
Because even if stopping blood pressure medication does not lead to symptoms and the patient initially feels well, he risks life-threatening complications such as a stroke or heart attack.
The recommendation of the German Hypertension League is: Do not simply stop taking medication, but replace the contaminated medication as soon as possible!
Replace any medication containing valsartan
Although there is no acute risk, according to the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM), the recommendation was made to exchange the affected valsartan-containing drugs.
However, some patients may stop taking the medication completely out of fear.
"People hear the word cancer and prefer to leave out the blood pressure medication - because supposedly you can do it without it," says Prof. Dr. Bernhard K. Krämer, Chairman of the Board of the German Hypertension League e.V. DHL® German Society for Hypertension and Prevention.
“If you don't take your tablets for a long time, there are often no symptoms. This is a common problem in treating high blood pressure. Unfortunately, very few people are aware of the long-term dangers of high blood pressure, ”says the expert.
The consequences would be fatal
According to an estimate by the European Health Authority (EMA), one more cancer case may occur if 5,000 people over seven years take a contaminated valsartan drug.
However, Prof. Krämer explains that if 5,000 patients do not take their high blood pressure medication for seven years, there will be significantly more than just a death from stroke, heart attack or other typical complications of high blood pressure, but the death rate in the high 2 to 3 digits Area would lie.
"Simply omitting the blood pressure lowerers would be fatal for many of our patients," said the expert, who appeals to the patients to continue to take hypertension therapy seriously.
Reinsure at the pharmacy
Of course, one should avoid continuing to take contaminated substances, because every risk of cancer - however small - should be minimized.
DHL advises every patient taking a valsartan preparation to reassure their pharmacy, in particular, that it is not one of the medications affected.
Alternatively, the patient can ask his doctor to look up the batch number printed on the medication in an online list to see whether his medication containing valsartan is affected by the recall or to look there himself.
The German Hypertension League advises those whose medications are among those that are contaminated to swift exchange. "Go to your doctor or pharmacist, but never stop taking the medication," the expert warned.
Patients' own initiative asked
Now the patient's own initiative is particularly important, because they must not rely on the doctor to call the person concerned and ask them to exchange the medication.
"The doctors usually prescribe the active ingredient, but do not know which product the pharmacist has given the patient and therefore cannot proactively approach the patient concerned," explains Professor Dr. Peter Trenkwalder, Deputy CEO of DHL.
"At the moment we only have to ask the patients to make themselves known and also to appeal to their adherence to therapy!" (Ad)