Dozens of batches of a blood pressure pills have been recalled due to being contaminated with 'unacceptable' levels of a potentially cancer causing chemical.
Pharmacies and health professionals were ordered to immediately stop supplying 44 batches of the drug irbesartan and quarantine all reaming stock after they were found to contain unacceptable amounts of a substance called ABZT.
ABZT has been shown in lab tests to cause cancer if people are exposed to it over a long period of time.
However patients on irbesartan are still being advised to take their prescribed medication, which reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke, as the dangers of not taking it are higher.
Britain's medical watchdog said the move was purely precautionary and there was no proof it has caused any harm to patients.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which polices the safety of drugs used in Britain, said the move was 'precautionary'
Officials say the affected batches, under the brand name Aprovel, consist of more than 1,200 pills distributed since November 2019.
Most of the batches distributed in 2020 but some have been prescribed as recently June this year.
NHS figures indicate more than 2million people are prescribed drugs containing irbesartan in England.
The drug is prescribed to treat high blood pressure and is prescribed to help prevent heart attacks and strokes in at risk patients.
ABZT, known as azidomethyl-biphenyl-tetrazole is a chemical compound that can form during the manufacturing of some blood pressure medicines known as sartans.
It is known to damage DNA, and long-term exposure over years could increase a person's risk of developing cancer.
Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, chief safety officer, Dr Alison Cave, said: 'This recall is a precautionary measure to prevent further exposure to AZBT above the acceptable safety limit.
'There is no evidence that this substance has