Pfizer Canada has recalled a prescription drug used to treat high blood pressure but the company and Health Canada are advising people to continue the medication unless told to stop by a doctor.

The recall affects all lots of Accuretic (quinapril hydrochloride and hydrochlorothiazide) medication in 10/12.5 milligrams, 20/12.5 mg and 20/25 mg strengths. 

Pfizer says the recall is due to impurities of nitrosamine (N-nitroso-quinapril) above the accepted level. Long-term exposure to higher levels may increase the risk of cancer.

Health Canada says a person taking a drug that contains this impurity at an acceptable level every day for 70 years is not expected to be at increased risk of cancer.

The agency says people may keep using the medication unless a doctor says otherwise, noting that not treating the condition may pose a greater health risk.

Health Canada says to contact a health-care provider to discuss other treatment options.

Low levels of nitrosamines are found in a variety of foods, including smoked and cured meats, dairy products and vegetables, drinking water and air pollution.

Accuretic is a prescription drug that contains a combination of quinapril hydrochloride and hydrochlorothiazide, which both lower blood pressure.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2022.