Everything you need to know about the latest ARB recall

ARB recallCC: Kendall James at Unsplash

In recent months, Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs) have faced a recall. The ARB recall arose when suspected cancer-causing agents were found inside some of the drugs. As a vital medication in the fight against high blood pressure, ARBs play an important role in many people’s lives. If you currently take them, here’s everything you need to know about the ARB recall.

What are ARBs and what do they do?

Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs) are medications that treat high blood pressure. They block the hormone angiotensin II when it tries to attach to receptors in blood vessels. As angiotensin II causes blood vessels to tighten, this relaxes them slightly. As a result, the heart doesn’t need to pump as hard. This then stabilizes the user’s blood pressure.

Some of the commonest ARBs you may know of include:

  • Valsartan
  • Losartan
  • Candesartan
  • Entresto

What is the 2019 ARB recall?

The latest ARB recall involves the drug valsartan. Manufacturers found trace amounts of a cancer-causing agent inside the drug. In response, an ARB recall was issued resulting in large batches of valsartan being recovered. It wasn’t long before other drugs in the class – losartan and irbesartan – left the shelves too.

After an analysis of the manufacturing process, an investigative body found that the cancer-causing agent entered the drug while manufacturing the active pharmaceutical agent. This meant the ARB recall took place across various brands, causing some panic among those who depend on it.

What should you do if you take ARBs?

First, it’s worth checking whether your particular drug is part of the ARB recall. You can do so here at the FDA website.

Next, you need to pay attention to the FDA’s advice. In summary, the FDA believes that the risk of suddenly stopping your ARB is higher than if you continue taking it. Instead of stopping the drug, you should continue to take your usual doses and make an appointment with your prescribing doctor. If that isn’t possible, consider discussing the matter with your local pharmacist.

Is this the first time ARBs have been linked with cancer?

One study from 2010 found that there’s an elevated risk of cancer among those who take telmisartan. The study was an extensive review of several different studies looking at ARBs and cancer. It found that the risk was significantly elevated among those who took telmisartan but didn’t mention any other ARBs specifically. For the most part, this involved new cases for lung cancer. However, the same data didn’t reveal a spiked risk in cancer-related deaths.

If you’re worried about the ARB recall, always talk to a medical or pharmaceutical professional before changing your medication.

About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.