Avalide Blood Pressure Medication Recall

Avalide, a blood pressure medication, has been recalled by Bristol-Myers Sanofi-Aventis because a manufacturing problem could affect the drug’s efficacy. The Avalide recall is for 64 million tablets.

Why the two companies? Bristol-Myers co-markets Avalide and another blood pressure medication, Sanofi-Aventis’ Avapro, under a longstanding partnership. Apparently the drugs are thought to work well together. Avapro contains irbesartan, while Avalide is a combination of irbesartan and hydrochlorothiazide. The drugs are designed to lower high blood pressure.

A Bristol-Myers spokesperson said, “We can’t exclude the possibility that it might affect efficacy.” I wonder if this means that they really are taking every last precaution in recalling this blood pressure medication or whether it is drug company talk for “we are pretty sure our drug does not work.” I really don’t know.

I’m not sure if this recall will cause anyone injury. If it does, it is going to be hard in a lawsuit to link the lack of blood pressure medication to any cardiac event. Really hard. But this recall does raise questions about Bristol-Myers’ manufacturing processes and their ability to make safe products.