Valsartan, the active ingredient in brand name Diovan, quickly became one of the most widely prescribed medications in the treatment of heart failure and hypertension (high blood pressure) after the active pharmaceutical ingredient became available off-patent. In the last week, three of the generic manufacturers; Major Pharmaceuticals, Solco Healthcare and Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd., were asked by the US Food and Drug Administration to recall their valsartan products due to detection of a cancer-causing substance.
This has caused a run on available supplies of the maintenance drug, both Walgreen Retail Stores and CVS Pharmacies reported to Historic City News on Thursday. Alliance-Prime Health, a nationwide home delivery pharmacy, says the recall has depleted all available supplies of valsartan since they received FDA notification last Friday.
Patients who typically take a daily dose of the angiotensin II receptor blocker are being directed back to their physician if they have refills on file. They are asked to have their prescriptions re-written for alternative medications, such as losartan, which for the time being is in stock and available.
The Novartis brand name product, Diovan, can be substituted at the pharmacy without a new prescription. However, according to one pharmacy, the formulary used by many Blue Cross PPO and HMO plans, for example, requires a patient co-pay of more than $200 for a thirty-day supply. Novartis does not source its valsartan from the supplier in China that was discovered to include the human carcinogen.
The FDA is cautioning patients not to interrupt their daily dosing of valsartan as potentially life-threatening conditions could develop. Instead, the US Food and Drug Administration says to use your current supply of valsartan and contact your physician or pharmacy as quickly as possible for assistance in obtaining a safe, alternative treatment for your heart or blood pressure condition.