Drugs Q & A

Why Is Amlodipine Banned In Canada?

Amlodipine belongs to a class of medications known as calcium channel blockers. It lowers blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels so the heart does not have to pump as hard. It controls chest pain by increasing the supply of blood to the heart. If taken regularly, amlodipine controls chest pain, but it does not stop chest pain once it starts.

Amlodipine is used alone or in combination with other medications to treat high blood pressure in adults and children 6 years and older. It is also used to treat certain types of angina (chest pain) and coronary artery disease (narrowing of the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart). Amlodipine was patented in 1982, and approved for medical use in 1990. It is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. It is available as a generic medication. In 2018, it was the fifth most commonly prescribed medication in the United States, with more than 75 million prescriptions.

Why is amlodipine banned in Canada?

Amlodipine is not banned in Canada. Although a study found that women who took calcium-channel blockers (CCBs) like amlodipine (Norvasc), for 10 years or longer had more than double the odds of having certain forms of breast cancer, including the most common type, invasive ductal breast cancer, another large population study provided strong evidence that CCB use is not associated with an increased risk of cancer. These studies with conflicting outcome has been a source of concern for many public health and regulatory bodies across the globe.

Despite this concerns, amlodipine is not on the list of banned drugs in Canada.You can buy amlodipine with a valid prescription in Canada and border health authorities will allow you to enter Canada with the medication required for a single-course of treatment or a 90-day supply, whichever is less, of both prescription drugs and over- the -counter medication.

Amlodipine Safety Information

If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:

  • Edema (swelling around the ankles) is the main side effect. Shortness of breath, dizziness, fast or irregular heart beat, flushing, and wheezing have also been reported.
  • Lower doses may be needed in patients with liver disease. When starting treatment in those already on antihypertensive treatment, use a lower starting dose of 2.5 mg/day.
  • Rarely, excessively low blood pressure may be experienced by some people. The risk is higher for people with severe aortic stenosis. Blood pressure should be monitored regularly.
  • Rarely, some patients may experience an increase in the frequency or severity of angina or acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) when starting amlodipine. The risk is greater in those with severe obstructive coronary artery disease.
  • May interact with a number of other drugs including those that inhibit hepatic enzymes CYP3A and other drugs that also lower blood pressure.

Note: In general, seniors or children, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney problems, heart disease, diabetes, seizures) or people who take other medications are more at risk of developing a wider range of side effects. 

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