More evidence that the drug approval process is completely broken. A pharmacy recently alerted the FDA to the presence of a cancer-causing chemical in the popular blood-pressure drug valsartan, putting millions of patients at risk. Incredibly, this isn’t even the first time dangerous chemicals have been found in this class of drugs. Generic forms of Valsartan have been recalled since 2018 when three other carcinogenic compounds were found in various versions of the drug. In this current episode, a solvent called dimethylformamide (DMF) was discovered in valsartan pills still on the market in the US, which the FDA was recommending as an alternative to recalled versions. The World Health Organization classifies DMF as a “probable carcinogen.” Note that the FDA allows drugs to contain small amounts of DMF. That’s right—the agency charged with protecting public health allows drug manufacturers to put a cancer-causing solvent in their pills. The contamination of this heart drug highlights, among other things, the pitfalls of the drug manufacturing process. According to one expert, “Medicines are kind of like used cars: By the time you get it it’s already five or six years old, it’s touched hundreds of hands and it’s got 100,000 miles on it.” This puts the supposed safety of the medications that millions of Americans take—often more than one—in serious question.

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