Europe determines ARB-cancer link non-existent

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To help put the kibosh on a possible link between angiotensin II receptor antagonists (ARBs) and new cancers, the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has concluded that previous evidence does not support any increased risk of cancer in patients administered ARBs.

The CHMP review was requested by the Italian Medicines Agency after a meta-analysis published in Lancet Oncology earlier this year showed an 8 to 10 percent increase in new cancers with ARBs. The data on ARBs, commonly administered to treat hypertension and heart failure, and their link to cancer were “weak,” EMA reported. Specifically, the agency noted several problems within the data, particularly the fact that patients in trials were not followed up for long enough periods of time to establish a link between ARBs and cancer.

“Information on the risk of cancer before start of treatment was lacking, and there was a possibility of publication bias, whereby studies that showed a link with cancer were more likely to have been included in the analysis,” EMA wrote in a statement.

During the review, CHMP also reviewed data from larger population-based studies and found the same result—ARBs did not show an increased risk of cancer.

The agency said that it will continue to monitor data to ensure patient safety.