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ARBs link to cancer risk to be investigated

The EMA has launched an investigation into a potential increased risk of cancer in patients taking common blood pressure medicines known as ARBs

The European Medicines Agency's (EMA) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has launched an investigation into a potential increased risk of cancer in patients taking common blood pressure medicines known as angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs).

The investigation was prompted by a meta-analysis published in The Lancet Oncology earlier this month in which nine trials involving 95,000 patients suggested that the drugs may be linked with "a modestly increased risk of new diagnoses of cancer when compared with placebo or other heart medicines."

The study showed that patients randomised to receive ARBs had a 7.2 per cent risk of developing a new cancer over four years, compared to a 6 per cent risk among patients in control groups. But the researchers noted: "it is not possible to draw conclusions about the exact risk of cancer associated with each particular drug."

In the meta-analysis, 86 per cent of patients received Boehringer Ingelheim's Micardis (telmisartan). Other drugs in the class include Merck's Cozaar (losartan), AstraZeneca's Atacand (candesartan cilexetil), Novartis' Diovan (valsartan), sanofi-aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb's Avapro (irbesartan), Daiichi Sankyo's Benicar (olmesartan), and Solvay's Teveten (eprosartan).

The EMA reported that the panel will review the results as well as any other available data to determine whether changes should be made to the product information or if risk-management plans are necessary for this class of drug.

28th June 2010

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