Nitrosamine molecule
While small amount of nitrosamine are safe, continuous exposure to large amounts is tied to a variety of cancers
  • Pfizer has recalled the blood pressure drug Accuretic, among others, after discovering nitrosamine impurities
  • High levels of nitrosamine have been linked to multiple types of cancer after being exposed to high levels after long periods of time
  • Nitrosamine can be common in some process foods, along with goods like cigarettes and makeup, and low levels are safe for humans
  • The compound is often formed unintentionally as a result of a reaction between chemicals used in manufacturing and processing of goods
Three blood pressure medications manufactured by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer have been recalled after a potential cancer-causing chemical compound was discovered in them.

Accuretic, along with two generic blood pressure medications licensed by the company, were found to have elevated levels of nitrosamine, which can put someone at risk of cancer if they are exposed to elevated levels.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that some levels of the compounds are ok, and frequent in food and drink consumed everyday, but consistent use of drugs with detected impurities can prove dangerous.

Pfizer voluntarily issued the recall on Monday and did not report any adverse events related to the impurities. The company's Canadian branch recalled another blood pressure drug, Inderal, for similar reasons last week.
Accuretic Pills
Pfizer has issued a voluntary recall for Accuretic, a blood pressure drug, found to have nitrosamine impurities, which can cause cancer after continuous exposure
'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 writes about nitrosamines.
Pfizer's recall includes lots of the drug that were distributed around the U.S. and Puerto Rico from November 2019 to March 2022.

The agency recommends people that are taking a drug that is discovered to have nitrosamine impurities to immediately stop.

On Tuesday, the day following the recall, the company's stock price has lost two percent of its value, down to $53.08 per share as of 12:58 pm.

This is despite an overall strong day for the market as of mid-day.

Pfizer Marker Sumary
Pfizer advised any current hypertension patients that were managing their condition using the recalled drug speak to a doctor about potential alternatives.
'Pfizer believes the benefit/risk profile of the products remains positive based on currently available data,' the company wrote in a statement.
'Although long- term ingestion of N-nitroso-quinapril may be associated with a potential increased cancer risk in humans, there is no immediate risk to patients taking this medication.'
Accuretic is a combination between two different drugs, quinapril and hydrochlorothiazide.

Quinapril is an ace inhibitor drug that prevents a person's blood vessels from narrowing, helping prevent high blood pressure.

Hydrochlorothiazide is a diuretic, which causes a person to urinate more. This can quickly get rid of sodium in the body, helping reduce a person's blood pressure.

Both drugs are commonly used in other blood pressure medications as well.

Nitrosamines are often unintentionally found in processed foods as a byproduct of a chemical reaction between different chemicals used in the process.

Pfizer company's Canadian branch
Pfizer has recalled three blood pressure drugs in recent days, with the company's Canadian branch recalling Inderal for similar reasons just last week
'There are multiple reasons why nitrosamines can be present in drugs,' according to the FDA.

'FDA found the source of nitrosamines can be related to the drug's manufacturing process or its chemical structure or even the conditions in which they are stored or packaged.'

'As foods and drugs are processed in the body, nitrosamines can also be formed.'
They can be found in anything from certain meats, alcohol, cigarettes or even makeup.

Consistent over-exposure to the compound has been tied to lung, brains, liver, kidney, bladder and stomach cancer, among others.

The FDA reports that a recent increase in drugs being recalled for containing the chemical compound is more a result of the agency and other groups having more accurate testing technology now then it had in previous years.