Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Primary Care and Community Health Services, John Brassil has said that the way in which the HSE and the Health Products Regulatory Authority are dealing with the recall of Valsartan, a blood pressure regulator, is wholly inadequate and is causing worry to patients, pharmacists and GPs alike.
Deputy Brassil who is a pharmacist by profession was commenting following a pharmacy level recall which was ordered after impurities were found in the manufacturing process for the medicine that is commonly used to regulate blood pressure for over 60,000 Irish people.
“Although a memo was issued by the HPRA yesterday, the majority of pharmacists and doctors only found out about the recall via a news alert.
“No tangible or useful information has been given to GPs or pharmacists by the authorities. They are completely in the dark as to what is the best course of action. While there is no immediate risk to health, the recall is very worrying for patients – many of whom are unsure as to whether they should continue taking their medication.
“Pharmacists have alternative blood pressure medicines but, unlike in some other jurisdictions, they do not have the authorisation to prescribe the alternative. That requires a GP visit. GPs have not been issued with guidelines as to what to do, and this recall affects up to 60,000 patients which is putting a further strain on the GP system that is already at capacity.
“Given the widespread use of generic medication in the Irish health service, patients are now concerned about the quality of other generic medication, and are seeking assurance that this is an isolated and one off incident.
“The HSE and the HPRA have been of little help to pharmacists or to my colleagues working as GPs. This is something that should have been planned for. Product recalls take place quite regularly and protocols should be in place for issue to pharmacists and GPs to speed up the replacement procedure. The impact of this announcement on patients, and the uncertainty that it has caused, could have been predicted. Pharmacists around the country have reported queues of worried patients in their pharmacies this morning wondering whether their medicines are safe to take.
“We need to end the confusion and the worry as soon as possible, and ensure that the 60,000 patients who are currently using this medication have an alternative in place with the minimum of disruption,” concluded Brassil.