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‘Please Pay Attention’: Scientist Flagged Heart-Pill Toxins Early On

An expert at the China-based company that made tainted drug ingredients warned in an email of contamination risks a year before a global recall

In July 2018, valsartan was recalled for containing a chemical that can increase the risk of cancer after prolonged exposure.

In July 2018, valsartan was recalled for containing a chemical that can increase the risk of cancer after prolonged exposure.

Source: PureRadiancePhoto/Shutterstock

A scientist at a China-based company that makes crucial ingredients for generic drugs warned a year before the start of a global recall that some blood-pressure pills could become tainted with potentially cancer-causing chemicals, according to court documents.

Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical Co. makes active ingredients for generic drugs including valsartan, which is taken by millions of people to treat hypertension. In July 2018, valsartan made with Huahai’s products was recalled for containing N-Nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA, a chemical that can increase the risk of cancer after prolonged exposure at the levels detected in the drugs.