The Europe-wide recall follows identification of the impurity in the active substance valsartan manufactured at one facility in China, Britain's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency's (MHRA) said.
A number of medications used by about 50,000 people in Ireland to treat heart failure and high blood pressure are being recalled "as a precautionary measure".
According to global media reports, the company Zhejiang Huahai found N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in the valsartan active substance supplied to manufacturers producing some of the valsartan medicines available in the European Union.
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Dr Sam Atkinson, MHRA director of the inspection, enforcement and standards division, said: "We will communicate the outcome of our investigations and ensure that the medicines [taken by patients] are safe". The review was triggered after the company detected an impurity, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a substance classified as "probable cancerogen".
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and other EU regulators are investigating the extent of the issue and the MHRA said it will continue to undertake an "urgent review" of the products. Not all valsartan medicines are affected by the recall.
National authorities across the European Union are now recalling medicines containing valsartan supplied by Zhejiang Huahai while a review investigating levels of NDMA is undertaken. "Laboratory testing and risk assessments will provide more information as part of this co-ordinated European approach to establish the possible impact on patients who have been taking these medicines and to ascertain if other products may be impacted". The health risk of abruptly discontinuing this medicine is higher than any potential risk presented by the impurity.