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Exforge® is the brand name of a prescription medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat high blood pressure, or hypertension. High blood pressure is a chronic medical condition in which blood circulates through the arteries with elevated force. People suffering from such an ailment can use Exforge® as a primary hypertension medication, or when another drug is not doing a sufficient job.
The medication is manufactured as a single pill that combines two agents. One of them, amlodipine, is a calcium channel blocker. This means amlodipine decreases blood pressure by blocking the entry of calcium into the muscle cells of the arteries. The second agent is an angiotensin receptor blocker called valsartan. It decreases hypertension by regulating the production of angiotensin, which is a peptide that causes blood vessels to constrict, thus driving up blood pressure.
Patients are advised to take Exforge® once a day at a designated time; it can be ingested with or without food. Doctors usually require patients who miss a dose to take it as soon as they remember. Exforge® is available in dose preparations of 5/160 milligrams (mg), 10/160 mg, 5/320 mg and 10/320 mg of amlodipine and valsartan, respectively.
A version of the medication, Exforge HCT®, exists for people who need more than two combinations of medications. Exforge HCT® is named to indicate the addition of a third agent, hydrochlorothiazide. It is a diuretic, or "water pill," that works by causing the kidneys to move excess water and salt from the body to the urine, thus decreasing the volume of the patient's blood.
Despite Exforge®'s designation as a blood pressure medication, it also has some serious side effects. Takers of the drug may have allergic reactions such as a skin rash, or low blood pressure — hypotension — which is actually the exact opposite of high blood pressure. Other side effects of taking Exforge® may include dizziness; drowsiness; swelling of the hands, feet and ankles; chest pains; sore throat; muscle spasms; or thirst. Additionally, Exforge® cannot be used to treat or prevent cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks or strokes. People who intend on taking Exforge® should notify their doctors if they have certain medical conditions, including pregnancy, a heart condition, or liver or kidney problems.
Novartis Pharmaceuticals — a multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in Basel, Switzerland — manufactures Exforge®. It also markets valsartan under the brand name Diovan®. Novartis holds the patent for the medication, which is set to expire in September 2012.
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