FDA official says ongoing blood pressure drug investigation will probably uncover more tainted drugs

Janet Woodcock, MD, director of FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, reports the agency is continuing an investigation and recall of a class of drugs used by millions that began last summer. Starting in July, separate lots of blood pressure medications from various companies were pulled from pharmacy shelves.

Janet Woodcock, MD, director of FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, reports the agency is continuing an investigation and recall of a class of drugs used by millions that began last summer. Starting in July, separate lots of blood pressure medications from various companies were pulled from pharmacy shelves. The angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) contain either valsartan, losartan, or irbesartan. These blood pressure drugs contained impurities that pose a cancer risk to users. "The investigation isn't concluded," says Woodcock. Working with regulators from around the world, she anticipates more tainted drug lots will be found. "The significance of this recall is that it's one of the major drugs that are dispensed in U.S. pharmacies," notes Maisha Kelly Freeman, a professor and director of Samford University's Center for Healthcare Innovation and Patient Outcomes Research. She adds that there are FDA safeguards in place to prevent drug contamination. Manufacturers are compelled to report impurities, for example, and the agency inspects factories on a risk-prioritized basis.