Pharmacotherapeutic group: Angiotensin II Antagonists, plain. ATC code: C09CA03.
Pharmacology: Pharmacodynamics: Valsartan is an orally active, potent, and specific angiotensin II (Ang II) receptor antagonist. It acts selectively on the AT1 receptor subtype, which is responsible for the known actions of angiotensin II. The increased plasma levels of Ang II following AT1 receptor blockade with valsartan may stimulate the unblocked AT2 receptor, which appears to counterbalance the effect of the AT1 receptor.
Valsartan does not exhibit any partial agonist activity at the AT1 receptor and has much (about 20,000 fold) greater affinity for the AT1 receptor than for the AT2 receptor. Valsartan is not known to bind to or block other hormone receptors or ion channels known to be important in cardiovascular regulation. Valsartan does not inhibit ACE (also known as kininase II) which converts Ang I to Ang II and degrades bradykinin. Since there is no effect on ACE and no potentiation of bradykinin or substance P, angiotensin II antagonists are unlikely to be associated with coughing.
Hypertension: Administration of valsartan to patients with hypertension results in reduction of blood pressure without affecting pulse rate.
In most patients, after administration of a single oral dose, onset of antihypertensive activity occurs within 2 hours, and the peak reduction of blood pressure is achieved within 4-6 hours. The antihypertensive effect persists over 24 hours after dosing. During repeated dosing, the antihypertensive effect is substantially present within 2 weeks, and maximal effects are attained within 4 weeks and persist during long-term therapy. Combined with hydrochlorothiazide, a significant additional reduction in blood pressure is achieved.
Abrupt withdrawal of valsartan has not been associated with rebound hypertension or other adverse clinical events.
In hypertensive patients with type 2 diabetes and microalbuminuria, valsartan has been shown to reduce the urinary excretion of albumin.
Pharmacokinetics: Absorption: Following oral administration of valsartan alone, peak plasma concentrations of valsartan are reached in 2-4 hours with tablets and 1-2 hours with solution formulation. Mean absolute bioavailability is 23 % and 39 % with tablets and solution formulation, respectively. Food decreases exposure (as measured by AUC) to valsartan by about 40 % and peak plasma concentration (Cmax) by about 50 %, although from about 8 h post dosing plasma valsartan concentrations are similar for the fed and fasted groups. This reduction in AUC is not, however, accompanied by a clinically significant reduction in the therapeutic effect, and valsartan can therefore be given either with or without food.
Distribution: The steady-state volume of distribution of valsartan after intravenous administration is about 17 litres, indicating that valsartan does not distribute into tissues extensively. Valsartan is highly bound to serum proteins (94-97 %), mainly serum albumin.
Metabolism: Valsartan is not biotransformed to a high extent as only about 20 % of dose is recovered as metabolites. A hydroxy metabolite has been identified in plasma at low concentrations (less than 10 % of the valsartan AUC). This metabolite is pharmacologically inactive.
Excretion: Valsartan shows multiexponential decay kinetics (t½α <1 h and t½β about 9 h). Valsartan is primarily eliminated by biliary excretion in faeces (about 83 % of dose) and renally in urine (about 13 % of dose), mainly as unchanged drug. Following intravenous administration, plasma clearance of valsartan is about 2 l/h and its renal clearance is 0.62 l/h (about 30 % of total clearance). The half-life of valsartan is 6 hours.
Special populations: Elderly: A somewhat higher systemic exposure to valsartan was observed in some elderly subjects than in young subjects; however, this has not been shown to have any clinical significance.
Impaired renal function: As expected for a compound where renal clearance accounts for only 30 % of total plasma clearance, no correlation was seen between renal function and systemic exposure to valsartan. Dose adjustment is therefore not required in patients with renal impairment (creatinine clearance >10 ml/min). There is currently no experience on the safe use in patients with a creatinine clearance <10 ml/min and patients undergoing dialysis, therefore valsartan should be used with caution in these patients.
Valsartan is highly bound to plasma protein and is unlikely to be removed by dialysis.
Hepatic impairment: Approximately 70 % of the dose absorbed is eliminated in the bile, essentially in the unchanged form. Valsartan does not undergo any noteworthy biotransformation. A doubling of exposure (AUC) was observed in patients with mild to moderate hepatic impairment compared to healthy subjects. However, no correlation was observed between plasma valsartan concentration versus degree of hepatic dysfunction. Valsartan has not been studied in patients with severe hepatic dysfunction (see Dosage & Administration, Contraindications and Precautions).
Paediatric population: Impaired renal function: Use in paediatric patients with a creatinine clearance <30 ml/min and paediatric patients undergoing dialysis has not been studied, therefore valsartan is not recommended in these patients. No dose adjustment is required for paediatric patients with a creatinine clearance >30 ml/min. Renal function and serum potassium should be closely monitored.