By Alice Seeley

On Monday, March 21, Pfizer Inc announced a voluntary recall of six lots of the blood pressure medication Accuretic and two generic versions of Accuertic that were distributed through the U.S. and Puerto Rico from November 2019 to March 2022.

Accuertic is prescribed to treat hypertension to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, primarily strokes and myocardial infarctions. This recall is due to elevated nitrosamine levels, a potentially cancer-causing impurity in the medication.

Long-term exposure to nitrosamine has been linked to lung, brain, liver, kidney, bladder, and stomach cancer. Pfizer’s Canadian branch recalled another blood pressure drug, Inderal, for similar reasons last week.

Pfizer claims it has not received any incident reports related to the medication, and “although long-term ingestion of N-nitroso-quinapril may be associated with potential increased cancer risk in humans, there is no immediate risk to patients taking this medication. Patients currently taking the products should consult with their doctor about alternative treatment options,” Pfizer said.

According to The Food and Drug Administration, some nitrosamine levels can be ok and are frequently found in daily food and drink. However, consistent use of drugs with detected impurities can prove dangerous and could increase cancer risk.

“Nitrosamine impurities may increase the risk of cancer if people are exposed to them above acceptable levels and over long periods of time, but a person taking a drug that contains nitrosamines at or below the acceptable daily intake limits every day for 70 years is not expected to have an increased risk of cancer,” the FDA’s website reported.

The FDA recommended that people taking Accuretic from one of the lots immediately stop. A day after the recall, Pfizer’s stock price dropped by 2% of its value, down to $53.08 per share.