You may want an MBA. But you want to avoid NMBA.
NMBA stands for N-Methylnitrosobutyric acid, something that you don’t want in your blood pressure medications. But alas, this probable carcinogen continues to appear in various medications at higher than acceptable levels.
The latest news is that Torrent Pharmaceuticals Limited is further expanding its recall of Losartan Potassium Tablets USP and Losartan Potassium/hydrochlorothiazide tablets, USP, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA announcement includes five more lots of these medications. The additional lots add to the lots of blood pressure medications that have been recalled in the past 14 months or so.
In 2018 and 2019, it seems like news about potential cancer-causing contaminants in medications has become as repetitive as the lyrics “My Name Is” in Eminem’s song “My Name Is.” I’ve written about such news for blood pressure medications in November of last year, January of this year, and again March of this year. Then, just last week I covered impurities found in a common heartburn medication, ranitidine. Then, on Thursday, I added an update that Novartis was halting its distribution of ranitidine, the generic form of Zantac, until further testing could be done.
As they say when you soil your pants, one time may be an accident but more than three times is a trend. It is time to take a closer look at how drugs are being manufactured, stored, and distributed and how such processes are being monitored. As I have mentioned before, making medications is not the same as making handbags. You don’t, at least you shouldn’t, eat your handbags. While a poorly-made handbag could lead to social embarrassment, a poorly-made medication can have much greater and even life-threatening implications.
The FDA is the main agency to protect you against fraudulent and contaminated medications. But the FDA currently may not have the funding and the resources to carefully check everything that every drug manufacturer and distributor is doing, especially when some of these operations are rapidly changing or occurring overseas.
For now, if you are taking blood pressure medications, or any medications for that matter, pay attention to FDA warnings and recall news. The FDA maintains a searchable listing of active product warnings and recalls. As a precautionary measure, you may want to search for a medication before starting it. You can also check with your pharmacist to make sure that your medication is not on a recall or warning list. Of course, if you do find that your medication has a warning or is being recalled, don’t just stop taking it. That can be like trying to return a parachute while you are using it. Check with your doctor first to determine your course of action.
I am a writer, journalist, professor, systems modeler, computational and digital health expert, avocado-eater, and entrepreneur, not always in that order. Currently, I am a Professor of Health Policy and Management at the City University of New York (CUNY), Executive Director of PHICOR (@PHICORteam), and Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. My previous positions include serving as Executive Director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at Johns Hopkins University, Associate Professor of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Associate Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh, and Senior Manager at Quintiles Transnational, working in biotechnology equity research at Montgomery Securities, and co-founding a biotechnology/bioinformatics company. My work involves developing computational approaches, models, and tools to help health and healthcare decision makers in all continents (except for Antarctica) and has been supported by a wide variety of sponsors such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the NIH, AHRQ, CDC, UNICEF, USAID and the Global Fund. I have authored over 200 scientific publications and three books. Follow me on Twitter (@bruce_y_lee) but don’t ask me if I know martial arts.