European drugs regulators have launched an investigation into the possible increased risk of cancer in patients taking common blood pressure medicines known as angiotensin-receptor blockers or ARBs.
The European Medicines Agency said its Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) was prompted to reassess the risks of ARBs by a study reviewing nine trials involving almost 95,000 patients that suggested 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, known as a meta-analysis and published by U.S. researchers earlier this month, looked at all the publicly available data and found that patients were 1.2 percent more likely to be diagnosed with a new cancer over four years than people who did not take the drugs.
“The CHMP will review the meta-analysis thoroughly, together with any other available non-clinical and clinical data … to clarify whether there is an increased risk of cancer in patients taking these medicines,” the drugs agency said in a statement.
Most patients in the trials (86 percent) looked at by the U.S. study were taking German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim’s telmisartan, sold as Micardis.
Other drugs in the class include Merck & Co’s Cozaar, sold generically as losartan; Atacand, or candesartan, made by the Anglo-Swedish firm AstraZeneca, Diovan or valsartan made by Swiss drug firm Novartis, irbesartan, jointly marketed by Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb as Avapro, Daiichi Sankyo’s Benicar or olmesartan, and Solvay Pharmaceuticals’ Teveten or eprosartan.
The Medicines Agency said the CHMP would give an opinion after the investigation on whether changes should be made to the product information or risk-management plans for ARBs.