Lessons from the blood pressure drug recall

Here's what you need to know about the discovery of contaminants in a popular class of heart medications.

Last summer, a number of prescription medications containing the generic drug valsartan were recalled by manufacturers after investigators found trace amounts of possible cancer-causing impurities in some of the products. Over the following months, additional lots of valsartan, as well as batches of two similar drugs, losartan and irbesartan, were also pulled from pharmacy shelves.

All three of these drugs belong to a class of medications known as angiotensin-receptor blockers, or ARBs. These drugs block the effects of a hormone that narrows blood vessels and are used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. The recalled products also include combination drugs that contain one of those three ARBs. (See "Medication recall information" for accessing the list of affected products.)

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