EMA’s human medicines committee (CHMP) has aligned recommendations for limiting nitrosamine impurities in sartan medicines with recent recommendations it issued for other classes of medicines.

The main change concerns the limits for nitrosamines, which previously applied to the active ingredients but will now apply instead to the finished products (e.g. tablets). These limits, based on internationally agreed standards (ICH M7(R1)), should ensure that the excess risk of cancer from nitrosamines in any sartan medicines is below 1 in 100,000 for a person taking the medicine for lifelong treatment.

In line with previous recommendations, companies should have appropriate control strategies to prevent or limit the presence of nitrosamine impurities as much as possible and, where necessary, improve their manufacturing processes. Companies should also evaluate the risk of nitrosamines being present in their medicines and carry out appropriate tests.

Nitrosamines are classified as probable human carcinogens (substances that could cause cancer). In the vast majority of sartan medicines, these impurities were either not found or were present at very low levels.

The CHMP concluded its review of sartan medicines in January 2019. The committee subsequently conducted a wider review, taking into account the experience from sartans and other medicines where nitrosamines were detected. The revised conditions companies need to fulfil for sartans brings them in line with those for other classes of medicines issued in June 2020.

EMA will continue working with national authorities and the European Commission to ensure that companies are taking all necessary measures. EMA will also continue its close cooperation with the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines & HealthCare and international partner agencies.

Posted on the EMA website on 13 November 2020