Plaintiffs across the country have filed lawsuits alleging severe side effects from high blood pressure medication Valsartan, including liver damage and digestive cancers such as stomach cancer and bowel cancer. These side effects are believed to be caused by a carcinogen known as N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which has contaminated many batches of drugs containing Valsartan that were produced by the Chinese company Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals and the Indian company Hetero Labs Limited.
The drug injury lawyers at Rutter Mills help victims hold negligent drug makers and distributors accountable for the harm they cause to those they are supposed to help. Individuals who have been harmed by dangerous Valsartan side effects may be entitled to compensation for the physical, financial, and emotional injuries they have sustained.
Effects of Valsartan contamination
As an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) medication, Valsartan can cause mild or moderate short-term side effects like dizziness and nausea in many users, and more serious medical issues like low blood pressure in relatively few patients. However, the most dangerous side effects are associated with NDMA.
NDMA is a byproduct of industrial manufacturing and applications and is known to cause cancer. It has been used in laboratories to cause cancer in rats for research purposes. Even short-term exposure to NDMA can cause health problems, including liver damage. When the exposure is long-term, more serious organ damage or cancer can occur.
Valsartan Liver Damage
It is believed that Valsartan’s carcinogenic contaminants like NDMA are rapidly absorbed in the upper portion of the small intestine. The portal blood supply transports it to the liver, which can only metabolize minimal quantities of NDMA. This direct interaction with the liver makes it the organ most likely to be damaged by the carcinogen.
Those who ingest contaminated batches of Valsartan may suffer from the effects of liver fibrosis or scarring, liver tumors, or more severe damage.
The first signs of Valsartan-related liver damage may appear within the first two months of usage. If a patient continues taking it, the liver damage may progress to cholestasis, a dangerous condition in which blockage prevents bile from flowing from the liver. Decreased liver function prevents the body from clearing contaminants from the body, allowing a build-up of dangerous chemicals and further injury.
NDMA is considered a probable human carcinogen, and batches of Valsartan that have been contaminated with it may cause cancerous tumors to form in almost any organ with which it comes into contact. Long-term use may increase the risk of:
- Liver cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Lung cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Nasal cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Esophageal cancer
Cancer-related side effects of Valsartan had previously been undocumented, but the July 2018 voluntary recall by manufacturers cited NDMA contamination as a potential cancer risk for patients taking the popular blood pressure medication.
NDMA side effects symptoms
Even when the exposure to NDMA does not cause liver disease or digestive cancers, overexposure can lead to other serious side effects such as:
- Nausea, abdominal cramps, and/or vomiting
- Enlarged liver, reduced liver function, or jaundice
- Reduced function of kidneys
- Impaired lung function
Sometimes the NDMA side effects can be even more severe, including:
- Low blood pressure
- High potassium levels
- Impaired renal function
If you experience any of these symptoms while taking Valsartan, seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible. Your doctor may instruct you to stop taking the drug, start taking a different drug, or keep taking a Valsartan medication that was not contaminated by NDMA.
Additionally, those taking any ARB, even those not affected by NDMA contamination, may experience severe sprue-like enteropathy after months or years of use. This condition mimics celiac disease but does not go away when the patient stops ingesting gluten. Speak with your doctor if you begin to develop symptoms such as diarrhea, fatigue, abdominal discomfort, and weight loss. The enteropathy generally only goes away when the patient stops taking an ARB medication.
Speak with drug injury lawyers at Rutter Mills
If you or a family member has taken a blood pressure medication containing a batch of Valsartan contaminated with NDMA, you may have the right to seek compensation through a Valsartan lawsuit. While a lawsuit cannot undo the physical and emotional effects of serious liver damage or cancer, it can provide you with valuable resources to get through it, including payment of medical expenses and lost wages, reimbursement for other necessary medical costs, and payment for your physical pain and suffering and any disability suffered as well as your emotional strain and the strain on your family relationships.
At a stressful time like this, put your trust in a committed and compassionate legal team. The Valsartan lawyers at Rutter Mills are proud to represent the interests of injured clients against the big pharmaceutical companies. Call us today to receive a free, confidential, no-risk case analysis.
Additional Valsartan side effects resources:
- USA Today, FDA Recalls Another Blood Pressure Drug for Possible Cancer Risk, www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2018/11/13/fda-losartan-recall-cancer-risk-tied-blood-pressure-drug/1985858002/
- FDA, FDA Updates and Press Announcements on Angiotensin II Receptor Blocker (ARB) Recalls (Valsartan, Losartan, and Irbesartan), https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-updates-and-press-announcements-angiotensin-ii-receptor-blocker-arb-recalls-valsartan-losartan
- NCBI, LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547944/
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