FOURTH carcinogen found in US blood pressure drugs as global pill-contamination scandal drags on – leaving millions at risk of exposure
- Two-thirds of the globe’s drug ingredients are made in factories in China and India
- In July 2018, major quality control issues were exposed, revealing millions of people had been exposed to chemicals
- Companies and health officials were forced to pull drugs from the supply, causing a shortage
- Now, an online pharmacy has found another chemical in drugs that were labeled ‘safe’
A fourth carcinogen has been found in America’s supply of blood pressure drugs.
The US and Europe have faced severe shortages of heart medications since last summer, when it emerged that millions of people (at least a million Americans, and another million in Europe) were taking pills laced with cancer-causing chemicals.
The chemicals were traced back to quality control failings at factories in China and India, which cheaply and efficiently produce two-thirds of drug ingredients in the world.
Officials and pharmaceutical companies were forced to pull most heart drugs from the US, leaving millions of people to choose between contaminated drugs or nothing.
Earlier this year, as the shortage dragged on, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a list of safe alternatives.
But today, a new FDA filing reveals those, too, appear to have been contaminated with another, previously undetected chemical: dimethylformamide (DMF), a solvent which is used in plastics, pesticides, and synthetic leathers.
The US and Europe have faced severe shortages of heart medications since last summer, when it emerged that millions of people were taking pills made in China laced with cancer-causing chemicals
The chemical was spotted in lots of valsartan provided by various top firms, including Novartis, after testing conducted by Valisure, an online pharmacy.
Valisure presented its findings to the FDA last week, forcing the agency into a new conundrum over how to get around the shortage.
Global authorities have been clamping down on sales of some blood pressure medicines for almost a year.
The drugs – valsartan and losartan, mainly made in China and India – were found to be tainted with two probable carcinogens – N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) and N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).
European regulators first detected the contamination in spring 2018 and started taking action cutting off the offending supply. In summer 2018, the FDA followed suit.
In the fall, generic drugmakers such as Mylan NV, Teva Pharmaceutical and Novartis’ Sandoz recalled products containing the tainted ingredients.
Then, in January, the FDA confirmed that another cancer-causing toxin, N-Nitroso-N-methyl-4-aminobutyric acid (NMBA), had been identified in 87 lots of losartan potassium pills made in India.
Controlling for NDEA, NDMA and NMBA is complicated.
They appear to be a byproduct of chemical interactions, though it’s not clear exactly which ones.
It’s unclear what the FDA will do in light of the new report.
It’s possible the FDA will return to an earlier strategy: telling Americans not to worry, and to keep taking their possibly contaminated drugs, insisting the levels of NDEA, NMDA, and NMBA were too low to be a concern.
That stance raised eyebrows among doctors and researchers.
Rosemary Gibson, author of ChinaRx: Exposing The Risks Of America’s Dependence on China For Medicine, told DailyMail.com in an interview: ‘Each Chinese-made tablet had more than 200 times acceptable limit, much more than other recalled products.’