Macau | Valsartan users to change drug this week, delay due to shortage of a substitute

Some 1,238 patients registered within the public health system who have been prescribed the antihypertensive drug Valsartan 'must change' their medications this week

Macau (MNA) – Some 1,238 patients registered within the public health system – 680 patients from the Public Hospital Conde de São Januário (CHCSJ) and 558 from health centres – who have been prescribed the antihypertensive drug Valsartan, ‘must change’ their medications this week, the Health Bureau announced on Sunday.

In a statement, the health authority claimed that it has successfully contacted some 968 users or 80 per cent of the total patients, who have been prescribed the drug, adding they ‘should immediately discontinue its use’ due to the presence of impurities of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).

A common drug used to control blood pressure and help prevent heart failure, Valsartan – brand name Diovan – has been recalled in some 22 countries because NDMA poses a potential cancer risk.

The immediate halt of use applies to four drugs: Valtensin Tablet 80mg, Valtensin Tablet 160mg, Valsartan + Hydrochlorothiazide Generis 80mg + 12.5mg and Valsartan + Hydrochlorothiazide Generis 160mg + 12.5mg.

Today’s warning was issued after the Bureau stated on Saturday that it had requested exporters and importers, as well as wholesale traders, pharmacies and private clinics, to recall six Valsartan drugs – in addition to the four mentioned above, namely Valtensin tablets HCT 80 / 12.5mg and Valtensin tablets HCT 160 / 12.5mg – while claiming it would contact patients over the weekend to arrange a change of medications.

Today, the Bureau said though, that the exchange of medicine planned to start on July 9 (Monday) will only begin on July 11 (Wednesday) since a worldwide recall of the medication has caused ‘a serious shortage of substitute medicines,’ despite the authority’s ‘contingency measures’ such as the urgent purchase of drugs with the same pharmaceutical ingredients.

It has also contacted by telephone the users to whom these drugs have been prescribed, to inform them of the exchange procedures and necessary therapeutic information.

‘Patients should take the current prescription drugs according to their medical prescription before receiving new drugs, and can not in any case suspend administration at their own discretion,’ the Bureau noted.

Residents can contact the Department of Pharmaceutical Affairs of the Health Bureau from 9:00am to 5:00pm at +853 8390 8588 and +853 8390 8582 for clarification.