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Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 1998 Nov;7(11):1915-25.

Pharmacology of valsartan, an angiotensin II receptor antagonist.

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Division of Hypertension and Vascular Medicine, Department of Medicine, CHUV and Policlinique Médicale Universitaire, Lausanne, Switzerland.


Valsartan is the second orally-active, non-peptide angiotensin II receptor blocker to reach the market in Europe and the USA for the treatment of hypertension. Preclinical studies have demonstrated that this blocker is specific for the AT(1) receptor and has no affinity for the angiotensin II AT(2) receptor. Experimentally, valsartan dose-dependently inhibits the vasoconstriction induced by angiotensin II and lowers blood pressure in renin-dependent models of hypertension. Pharmacologically, oral valsartan is characterised by a low bioavailability but a rapid absorption and distribution with a half-life in keeping with once-daily administration. Thus, after oral administration, the maximal plasma concentration is reached 2 h after dosing and the elimination half-life is about 6 h. Clinically, several dose-finding and comparative studies have demonstrated that valsartan is an effective and well-tolerated antihypertensive drug in patients with mild to moderate hypertension. Valsartan has also been shown to be effective in severe hypertension. Valsartan is at least as effective as ACE inhibitors, diuretics, beta-blockers and calcium antagonists. However, none of the side-effects observed with these latter agents, including cough and lower limb oedema, has been observed with the administration of valsartan. Three large clinical trials are now underway to demonstrate whether valsartan can reduce morbidity and mortality: one in hypertensives with a high cardiovascular risk profile (VALUE), one in patients with heart failure previously treated with an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (VAL-HeFT) and one in post-myocardial infarct patients (VALIANT). These studies will further define the place of valsartan beyond the treatment of hypertension.

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