FDA updates on angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) recalls including valsartan, losartan and irbesartan

PUBLISHED: Mar 21, 2019
Relevant to: All Healthcare Organizations

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued an update on the angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) recalls including valsartan, losartan and irbesartan. According to the FDA:

  • Medications containing only amlodipine or hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) are not being recalled. Manufacturers are recalling medications containing amlodipine in combination with valsartan or losartan, and medications containing hydrochlorothiazide HCTZ in combination with valsartan or losartan.
  • To ensure patient access to losartan, FDA will not object to certain manufacturers temporarily distributing losartan containing N-Nitroso-N-methyl-4-aminobutyric acid (NMBA) above the interim acceptable intake limit of 0.96 parts per million (ppm) and below 9.82 ppm until the impurity can be eliminated. The agency expects many companies will be able to manufacture losartan without nitrosamine impurities and replenish the U.S. supply in approximately six months.
  • Agency scientists evaluated the risk of exposure to NMBA at levels up to 9.82 ppm and determined that it presents no meaningful difference in cancer risk over a six-month time period when compared to a lifetime of exposure to NMBA at 0.96 ppm. Distributing losartan containing NMBA up to 9.82 ppm, will help maintain adequate losartan supply while companies obtain approval for manufacturing processes that produce nitrosamine-free losartan for patients.

FDA reminds patients taking recalled losartan to continue taking their current medicine until their pharmacist provides a replacement or their doctor prescribes a different medication that treats the same condition. Untreated hypertension (high blood pressure) leads to an increase in the risk of heart attacks and stroke. Untreated heart failure increases the risk of hospitalization and death. Untreated diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease) leads to worsening renal (kidney) disease.

Manufacturers should contact FDA’s Drug Shortages Staff when their testing of losartan shows levels of NMBA that exceed the interim acceptable intake limit of 0.96 ppm. FDA will determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether lots containing NMBA greater than 0.96 ppm should be released for distribution.

FDA continues to work with companies and international regulators to ensure products entering the U.S. market do not contain nitrosamine impurities.

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