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Pharmacists: No valsartan worries locally

Several valsartan-containing drugs, which are commonly used to treat high blood pressure, have been recalled over contamination fears, the Food and Drug Administration announced late last week, and local pharmacists said that patients in Covington County should not worry.

Bailey’s Pharmacist Jeff Bailey said that Losartan is more common in Covington County, but he has had several patients asking if it is still OK to take it.

“I’ve had five people ask me today if Losartan is OK to take,” Bailey said. “And from what I can tell, I am pretty sure it is still fine to take.”

David Darby from Darby’s Pharmacy agreed that Losartan is more common in Covington County, but in his Mobile store valsartan is more common.

“It is fairly common in Covington County, but not as much as Losartan,” Darby said. “We don’t have any Valsartan in our Andalusia stores, so we haven’t had to take any off the shelves, but we started taking them down in Mobile.”

According to the FDA, the medications were tainted with N-nitrosodimethylamine, a compound that has been linked to cancer. As a result, three companies have voluntarily recalled their products that contain Valsartan.

Darby said that the medication was made in China and was a counterfeit.

“All the medication being made in China and India is becoming a real issue,” Darby said. “They are making counterfeit drugs and selling them to American companies.”

Bailey said that the biggest challenge that he is facing is trying to get in touch with doctors because he is getting patients coming in with refills of valsartan.

“We have taken all of our valsartan off the shelves,” Bailey said. “But we have had several patients come in the past couple of days trying to get a refill of the medication.”

According to the FDA:

  • Because valsartan is used in medicines to treat serious medical conditions, patients taking the recalled valsartan-containing medicines should continue taking their medicine until they have a replacement product.
  • To determine whether a specific product has been recalled, patients should look at the drug name and company name on the label of their prescription bottle. If the information is not on the bottle, patients should contact the pharmacy that dispensed the medicine.
  • If a patient is taking valsartan, they should follow the recall instructions provided by the specific company. This information will be posted to the FDA’s website.
  • Patients should also contact their health care professional (the pharmacist who dispensed the medication or doctor who prescribed the medication) if their medicine is included in this recall to discuss their treatment, which may include another valsartan product not affected by this recall or an alternative treatment option.