(HealthDay News) — The health risk from contamination of widely used generic blood pressure medications, angiotensin II receptor blockers, is very low, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.

Since last July, low levels of a probable cancer-causing chemical (N-nitrosodimethylamine) have led to more than 50 recalls of the medications taken by millions of Americans, the Associated Press reported.

Last year, the FDA said there would be only one extra lifetime case of cancer if 8000 patients took the maximum doses of the drugs for 4 years. On Wednesday, the agency said it is likely that the risk is much lower than this “worst-case scenario” as most patients likely “received much smaller amounts of the impurity,” because not all blood pressure medications are tainted, the AP reported.

Patients should keep taking their blood pressure medications because the risk from untreated high blood pressure and heart failure “greatly outweighs the potential risk of exposure to trace amounts” of the harmful chemicals, according to Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the FDA.

References

Perrone M. US agency sees low risk in contaminated blood pressure drugs
AP News;
August 28, 2019

Statement on the agency’s ongoing efforts to resolve safety issue with ARB medications. FDA; August 28, 2019