What Is Valsartan?

Valsartan is a medication used primarily to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) or other issues connected to hypertension. While valsartan is the generic name of this medication, its most common trade name is Diovan, which is sold by Novartis International, Inc.

Valsartan is also used as an active ingredient in various medications produced by other companies. Many valsartan-based medications were recalled due to the presence of a chemical – and known carcinogen – called NDMA. This chemical impurity was introduced in certain medications due to a manufacturing problem and does not affect all valsartan-based medications. But patients who have taken the affected medications, which are now recalled, are at risk for various cancers as well as liver or kidney damage.

If you or a loved one relied on valsartan to control hypertension and have been affected by the recall, you may be eligible for compensation. The manufacturers of these recalled drugs face ongoing class action lawsuits due to the risk of cancer and other medical conditions. Patients who were forced to switch medications due to the recall, causing further health complications, may also be eligible for compensation.

Contact Farah & Farah now for a free consultation. You won’t pay a dime unless your case is successful. Don’t wait to get the justice and compensation you deserve.

Side Effects of Using Valsartan

Like all medications, using valsartan to treat hypertension or heart failure comes with the risk of some side effects. Some of the side effects are severe and require medical attention. Patients experiencing serious side effects should immediately alert their doctor. Other side effects are not so serious and do not require medical attention.

Side Effects that Do Not Require Medical Attention

Some side effects of valsartan are considered not serious and don’t require medical attention. These side effects are usually the patient’s body growing accustomed to the medication and will clear up on their own as the patient adjusts and can include:

  • Coughing
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Back pain
  • Stomach or other abdominal pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Difficulty in moving
  • Blurred vision
  • Joint pain, swelling, or redness
  • Flu or cold-like symptoms

Rarely, hair loss or hair thinning can also occur.

Serious Side Effects of Using Valsartan

Other side effects are signs of something more serious. Patients experiencing these symptoms should alert their doctor immediately because these symptoms can require medical treatment. These side effects can include:

Side Effects Rare Side Effects Extremely Rare Side Effects
  • Weight gain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Decreased urination
  • Bloody urine
  • Cold sweats
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Faintness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in the side
  • Increased thirst
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nervousness
  • Nausea
  • Tingling or numbness in lips, hands, or feet
  • Swelling in the face, lower legs, or fingers
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Fever
  • Sudden difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Hands, feet, or mouth swelling
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dark urine
  • Yellow eyes
  • Yellow skin
  • Light-colored stools (feces)
  • Stomach pain
  • Abdominal pain (in the upper right)

Risks and Complications of Using Valsartan

Risk of Cancer from Valsartan

The chemical NDMA is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a probable human carcinogen. Several valsartan-based medications were found to include NDMA due to a manufacturing incident. While some believed that there was not a significant risk of cancer, other doctors immediately switched patients off of valsartan-based medications, not wanting to take the risk. The risk of cancer with these medications is directly tied to the size of the prescribed dosage. Patients who have taken higher doses of valsartan, or those who have taken valsartan over longer periods of time, may be at more risk for developing cancer or other medical complications from their antihypertensive medication.

Risk of Liver and Kidney Damage

NDMA is also tied to lower liver and kidney functionality in humans who are exposed to the chemical in large amounts. This is especially true for patients with preexisting kidney or liver issues.

Risk of Switching Medication

The recall has left some patients without further access to valsartan-based medications that they relied on to control their hypertension, exposing them to further health risks. However, not all valsartan-based medications were affected by the recall, and there are other, similar medications that the patients’ doctors can prescribe instead. Blood pressure should be monitored carefully, as patients may respond differently to a different medication.

FDA Recalls on Valsartan-Based Medications

The FDA reported in July 2018 that the makers of several medicines containing valsartan were voluntarily recalling these products. The valsartan-based medications were recalled because they contained NDMA, which could potentially expose patients to cancer and other serious health risks.

The companies issuing the recall are:

  • Solco Healthcare
  • Teva Pharmaceuticals
  • Major Pharmaceuticals

The medications being recalled include both valsartan and valsartan/hydrochlorothiazide combinations.

Litigation Against Valsartan Manufacturers

There are multiple class action lawsuits ongoing against valsartan manufacturers: one in Canada and another in the United States. These lawsuits allege that the companies involved in the valsartan recall were negligent in their quality control of the valsartan medications. NDMA may have contaminated the medications as far back as 2012, risking the health of thousands of patients.

My Valsartan-Based Medication Was Recalled. Now What?

If your valsartan-based medication was recalled, the first step is to contact your doctor to switch to another medication that has not been contaminated by NDMA. The doctor may be able to advise you on lifestyle changes or other treatments that may reduce your reliance on a valsartan-based medication. 

The next step is to work with your doctor to assess potential medical conditions that may have arisen from taking valsartan. These include cancer and liver or kidney damage. You should also assess the possible health complications and side effects involved with switching medications.

Finally, you should consult a legal professional to seek compensation for pain and any medical bills you incurred due to the recall. Contact Farah & Farah to speak with one of our highly experienced attorneys who specialize in medical lawsuits. The consultation is free of charge and you pay nothing unless your case is successful.


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