Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., and Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research on the agency’s list of known nitrosamine-free valsartan and ARB class medicines, as part of agency’s ongoing efforts to resolve ongoing safety issue
Since we announced our investigation of impurities found in drugs known as angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure, we’ve been working to thoroughly understand how this issue arose, how we could address and mitigate exposure to this unnecessary risk to patients, and what we could do to prevent these types of impurities from reoccurring in future medications. We know that the discovery of these genotoxic impurities, called nitrosamines, is alarming to patients who expect their products to be free from these types of impurities. And while we’ve concluded through our risk assessments that the maximum possible exposure to nitrosamines (which are also known environmental contaminants and found in water and foods, including meats, dairy products and vegetables) in ARB medicines appears to be small, their presence in drug products is not acceptable.
Our response to this issue has been comprehensive and constant – an internal working group led by a multidisciplinary team of chemists, toxicologists, physicians, pharmacists, communication specialists, investigators and analytical laboratory staff from across the FDA and in collaboration with global regulators. We’ve remained steadfast in making sure we minimize risks to patients who rely on these medications, ensure access to safe ARBs or acceptable alternative therapies, and ensure affected medications are removed from the U.S. supply chain. Although we still have more work to do, we’re making significant advances in our efforts to protect patients from unnecessary exposure to these impurities.
Today, for the first time since the first nitrosamine impurity was discovered last summer, we’re announcing that we so far have identified 40 ARB medications where our assessment concluded they do not contain any known nitrosamine impurities, with the expectation that this number will increase. Our goal is for this information to help health care providers as they consider acceptable treatment options for their patients. Our assessment takes into consideration testing for impurities conducted by the FDA’s laboratories, an evaluation of the manufacturing process used by multiple manufacturers of the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) found in ARB medicines, as well as other information available to the agency from manufacturers and international regulators. We’ll continue to update this list of nitrosamine-free ARBs as we become aware of additional information and as we progress in our assessments of other ARB medications.
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