What We're Reading: Blood Pressure Medication Recall; Lead Crisis in Newark; Allergists Debate Peanut Allergy

September 24, 2019

Recall for blood pressure medication losartan has expanded for a fifth time; the lead crisis in Newark is easing after significant filter results for water; allergists speak about the pros and cons of the potential first peanut allergy treatment.

Blood Pressure Medications Recalled Over Link to Cancer-Causing Impurity

The recall of common blood pressure medication losartan has grown for a fifth time after manufacturer Torrent Pharmaceuticals uncovered a possibly carcinogenic impurity in more batches of the drug, according to USA Today. The FDA said that 3 lots of losartan potassium tablets and 2 additional lots of losartan potassium/hydrochlorothiazide tablets were under recall for levels of N-Nitroso-N-methyl-4-aminobutyric acid (NMBA) over the daily recommendation. As the FDA described NMBA as a “potential human carcinogen,” these heightened levels reveal a health hazard for users. Multiple blood pressure medications have been recalled since last July, such as valsartan, losartan, and irbesartan due to these levels of NMBA, as well as levels of Nitrosodimethylamine, and N-Nitrosodiethylamine.

Water Crisis Easing in Newark

Newark officials announced Monday that thousands of water filters given to residents had significantly reduced lead in drinking water, according to The New York Times. The filters were shown to be 97% effective in reducing lead levels to below the federally acceptable standard, based off testing done jointly by city, state, and federal officials. Back in August, Newark began distributing bottled water amid unsafe levels of lead in the drinking water. Since 3% of the results showed rates above the level set by the state, bottled water will still remain available to citizens.

Allergists Debate Possible First Approved Treatment for Food Allergies

An oral immunotherapy for peanut allergy control named Palforzia was recommended for approval by an FDA committee earlier this month, which has some allergists arguing it is beneficial and others saying it is unnecessary, according to NPR. If approved, it would be the nation’s first FDA-approved treatment for food allergies. The oral immunotherapy involves ingesting gradually increasing small doses of peanut protein to ameliorate the immune system’s overreaction to peanuts. Some allergists note this is already underway in current practice; these allergists also perceive issues in the pricing of 1-year’s supply of Palforzia that can potentially run to $4200 per patient. Not all allergists are opposed to the therapy, however, as some stressed the importance of distributing a standardized product for more predictable and safer results.