Valsartan is one of the most common medications used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. However, some of the generic versions of this drug have been contaminated with dangerous ingredients that can increase the risk of developing life-threatening cancers to patients taking it. If you have taken this medication and have been diagnosed with cancer, you may have a mass tort claim for compensation against the drug’s manufacturer.
What Is Valsartan?
Valsartan is an antihypertensive drug that helps lower blood pressure and is used to treat congestive heart failure. Its chemical compound works to block angiotensin II, which is a hormone that causes the blood vessels to constrict and can cause high blood pressure. It is also effective in stopping heart failure after patients have suffered congestive heart failure.
The U.S. pharmaceutical company Novartis originally developed this drug, and it was approved by the FDA in 1996. It was sold under the brand name Diovan until Novartis lost its patent in 2012. It quickly became one of the most popular medications throughout the world for treating high blood pressure.
When Novartis’ patent expired, other drug manufacturers began selling the generic version of this drug, which is known as Valsartan. Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. and Solco Heathcare Inc. were the largest manufacturers of the generic drug.
Valsartan’s Contamination With NMDA
The majority of Valsartan is manufactured overseas. The biggest manufacturer is Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals in China. In July 2018, the company discovered that the Valsartan it was producing was contaminated with N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). NDMA is a byproduct of certain chemical manufacturing processes and is classified as a carcinogen. The contamination was caused by a change in the manufacturing of this drug in 2012, which means that patients were taking contaminated Valsartan for several years before the problem was disclosed.
Once Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals notified manufacturers and safety officials of the contamination, it was discovered that Valsartan produced by other manufacturers also contained deadly NDMA. These wholesalers are Zhejiang Tianyu Pharmaceuticals of Taizhou, China, and Hetero Labs Ltd. in India. While the levels of NMDA were lower in these versions of the medication, they still pose serious health risks to patients.
FDA Recall of Valsartan
In July 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled dozens of generic Valsartan drugs. More medications were added to the recall list two months later. In addition, 22 other countries issued their own recalls, and some manufacturers voluntarily removed the medication from the market.
Not all generic versions of Valsartan have been tainted with NMDA, but the list is growing as the investigation of these drugs continues. Manufacturers of medications that have been named in the FDA recall include:
- Major Pharmaceuticals
- Solco Healthcare
- Teva Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
- Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
- Mylan Pharmaceuticals
- NuCare Pharmaceuticals
- Northwinds Pharmaceuticals
- Preferred Pharmaceuticals
- Prinston Pharmaceuticals
Health Dangers of Taking Contaminated Valsartan
NMDA is a dangerous carcinogen and can be poisonous if ingested at high levels. In some reported cases, individuals who ingested high levels of NMDA on only one occasion died from internal bleeding and liver damage.
Valsartan is considered a maintenance drug. Many patients have been taking it and inadvertently ingesting NMDA once or twice a day for years. This long-term exposure to NMDA significantly increases the dangers that they will develop cancer or other diseases, including:
- Liver cancer and non-cancerous damage
- Gastric cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Lung cancer
Lawsuits Being Filed Against Manufacturers of Valsartan
Numerous lawsuits have been filed by patients against the manufacturers of contaminated Valsartan for compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. These civil complaints have been filed individually and in mass tort lawsuits. Their complaints allege that the manufacturers knew or should have known of the contamination as early as 2012 but failed to take steps to warn physicians and patients of the dangers.
All federal lawsuits throughout the country are now consolidated in the United States District Court, District of New Jersey, in Valsartan Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2875, before Judge Robert B Kugler, U.S.D.J. They were consolidated for pre-trial purposes to save time, attorney fees, and court costs. In February 2019, approximately 40 lawsuits were filed, but it is expected that thousands of lawsuits could be filed over the next few years as patients discover that they have developed life-threatening cancers from tainted Valsartan.
What Should You Do If You Are Taking Valsartan?
If you have been taking Valsartan, do not discontinue using it without first consulting with your physician. Not all versions of this medication are contaminated. You should check with your pharmacy to determine which generic version of Valsartan you are getting. You should also consult with your doctor about whether you should continue to use this drug and the health risks you could face from it.
Contact Our Experienced Valsartan Lawyers Today
Have you or a loved one developed cancer or another disease from taking a generic version of Valsartan? Our experienced mass tort attorneys are here to protect your legal rights and to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve in the mass tort lawsuit against manufacturers of this drug. We handle these cases on a contingency fee basis so that you owe us no attorney fees until we win your case. Call our office or start a live chat to schedule your free case evaluation today.