Valsartan is a blood pressure medication that was first introduced into the market under the brand name Diovan. In 2018, several batches of valsartan were recalled after unacceptable amounts of the chemical N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) were discovered in the drug. While current batches of valsartan seem to be safe, others may have contained unsafe amounts of NDMA for up to four years before the recall.


What Is Valsartan?

Valsartan is a blood pressure medication prescribed for a variety of conditions. Valsartan is used in the treatment of hypertension, heart failure, and after a heart attack. There are four different dose strengths for the drug, which are determined based on a patient’s age and the condition being treated. Valsartan has been in use since 1996 and is one of the most popular blood pressure medications on the market.

Prior to the 2018 report, valsartan had been viewed as a relatively safe drug with only minor side effects, the most common of which being:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Abdominal pain
  • Joint pain
  • Back pain
  • Rash
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased kidney function
  • High blood potassium

The only people at any real risk from the drug under normal conditions are pregnant women and patients with severe congestive heart failure or chronic kidney disease. 

Pregnant women should not take valsartan as it can cause fetal toxicity. People with severe congestive heart failure and chronic kidney disease are at high risk for kidney failure while on the drug and their kidney function should be closely monitored while taking valsartan.

New batches of valsartan seem to pose the same low-risk side effects as those before the NDMA batches.


Why Is NDMA Dangerous?

NDMA has been classified as a carcinogen by the EPA. Exposure to NDMA has been linked to a wide variety of cancers, including:

  • Stomach Cancer
  • Intestinal Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Colon Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Liver Cancer
  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Leukemia

Even minimal exposure to NDMA can lead to liver damage.


Filing a Legal Claim

If you are considering filing a legal claim over your use of valsartan, there are many things you need to know. The first is that not all batches of valsartan were contaminated with NDMA. Valsartan is a generic medication, and many drug companies did not receive their pills from the tainted batches. It’s important that you check which brand of valsartan you were taking and whether they were sellers of the contaminated medication.

Because valsartan is a generic medication, there are many different companies involved in its production and distribution. As a result, there are multiple parties named as defendants in the various litigation.

If your medication was a part of the recall, it is important to keep your bottle and pills as evidence. Your pills can be tested for NDMA to prove your exposure.

For those thinking about bringing legal action in regards to their use of valsartan, it’s critical that you speak with an experienced product liability lawyer. A competent lawyer can help you figure out if you qualify for a lawsuit regarding valsartan and make sure your case gets filed before the statute of limitations runs out.

In February of 2019, 10 valsartan lawsuits across the country were combined into mass litigation in New Jersey federal court. By July 2019, there were 88 lawsuits in litigation. That number is expected to keep ballooning. 

With estimates that well over a million people likely took tainted valsartan, lawyers are expecting the number of total lawsuits to be in the thousands. Your lawyer can advise on whether you should make a mass tort injury claim related to your use of valsartan.

Should you choose to file a claim, it is important to be aware that you are unlikely to receive compensation anytime soon. With so many lawsuits already on file and more coming all the time, it will be a while before everything gets sorted out and the cases go to trial.