Calcium Channel Blockers: Safety Issues
The safety of calcium channel blockers has become a prominent concern in cardiovascular therapeutics during the past 2 years. This group of relatively disparate drugs has been subjected to considerable scientific and public debate. The character of this debate can be instructive regarding the basis of defining safety from data available during and after drug development. Exploration of that issue must begin with consideration of the type of evidence needed to support one or another claim about drug action. In addition, one salutary result of the public debate about the calcium channel blocking drugs is that several large data bases have been reviewed and new knowledge has been created. This needs to be evaluated in drawing conclusions about the appropriateness of treatment with calcium channel blockers. The following discussion aims to clarify the bases of decision making and to evaluate the information available to support conclusions.