A safety alert has been issued over a widely prescribed blood pressure pill over fears it could lead to cancer. Picture: Pexels

A safety alert has been issued over a widely prescribed blood pressure pill over fears it could lead to cancer.

Pharmacists are being urged to recall thousands of valsartan tablets which treat high blood pressure and heart failure.

A firm in China, which makes one of its ingredients, said it may have been contaminated with a cancer-causing chemical after a change in the manufacturing process.

The alert concerns seven types of commonly used tablets manufactured by Dexcel Pharma Ltd and Accord Healthcare.

It is not known how many patients are taking the pills but the NHS issued a total of 424,625 prescriptions for them last year. Patients are being advised to continue taking the medication but to contact their GP to arrange to switch to an alternative.

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said there was no evidence that patients had suffered harm and insisted the recall was only precautionary. Dr Sam Atkinson from the agency said: ‘We will communicate the outcome of our investigations and ensure that any other affected products are recalled. Our highest priority is to ensure that the medicines you take are safe.’