Doctors, pharmacists clash over hypertension medication in South Korea

A common, off-patent drug that had often been used to treat high blood pressure but which was banned in Korea after it was revealed to contain a chemical that poses a cancer risk has become the center of heated debate among doctors and pharmacists.Valsartan is commonly used for heart and high blood pressure medications. It is manufactured in a number of different locations worldwide, and it was recently revealed that those manufactured in China have been contaminated with a potential carcinogen. 

Local pharmacists have been calling for a new system that would require doctors to write down the chemical substance and ingredients needed to treat the patient, rather than the names of particular drugs, when issuing prescriptions.

A pharmacy in Seoul (Yonhap)

This way, pharmacists say, patients can have better access to information and generic drugs.The Korea Medical Association, one of the largest organizations of medical doctors, on the other hand, claims that such a system will only patients in greater danger and won’t be able to prevent cases such as the one involving Valsartan. They note that Valsartan is a component, not a brand name drug. 

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