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Mechanism of Action
Betapace (sotalol hydrochloride) has both betaadrenoreceptor blocking (Vaughan Williams Class II) and cardiac action potential duration prolongation (Vaughan Williams Class III) antiarrhythmic properties. Betapace (sotalol hydrochloride) is a racemic mixture of d- and l-sotalol. Both isomers have similar Class III antiarrhythmic effects, while the l-isomer is responsible for virtually all of the beta-blocking activity. The beta-blocking effect of sotalol is non-cardioselective, half maximal at about 80 mg/day and maximal at doses between 320 and 640 mg/day. Sotalol does not have partial agonist or membrane stabilizing activity. Although significant beta-blockade occurs at oral doses as low as 25 mg, significant Class III effects are seen only at daily doses of 160 mg and above.
In children, a Class III electrophysiologic effect can be seen at daily doses of 210 mg/m² body surface area (BSA). A reduction of the resting heart rate due to the beta-blocking effect of sotalol is observed at daily doses ≥ 90 mg/m² in children.
Sotalol hydrochloride prolongs the plateau phase of the cardiac action potential in the isolated myocyte, as well as in isolated tissue preparations of ventricular or atrial muscle (Class III activity). In intact animals it slows heart rate, decreases AV nodal conduction and increases the refractory periods of atrial and ventricular muscle and conduction tissue.
In man, the Class II (beta-blockade) electrophysiological effects of BETAPACE (sotalol) are manifested by increased sinus cycle length (slowed heart rate), decreased AV nodal conduction and increased AV nodal refractoriness. The Class III electrophysiological effects in man include prolongation of the atrial and ventricular monophasic action potentials, and effective refractory period prolongation of atrial muscle, ventricular muscle, and atrio-ventricular accessory pathways (where present) in both the anterograde and retrograde directions. With oral doses of 160 to 640 mg/day, the surface ECG shows dose-related mean increases of 40-100 msec in QT and 10-40 msec in QTc (See WARNINGS for description of relationship between QTc and Torsade de Pointes type arrhythmias). No significant alteration in QRS interval is observed.
In a small study (n=25) of patients with implanted defibrillators treated concurrently with Betapace (sotalol) , the average defibrillatory threshold was 6 joules (range 2-15 joules) compared to a mean of 16 joules for a nonrandomized comparative group primarily receiving amiodarone.
Twenty-five children in an unblinded, multicenter trial with supraventricular (SVT) and/or ventricular (VT) tachyarrhythmias, aged between 3 days and 12 years (mostly neonates and infants), received an ascending titration regimen with daily doses of 30, 90 and 210 mg/m² with dosing every 8 hours for a total 9 doses. During steady-state, the respective average increases above baseline of the QTc interval, in msec (%), were 2(+1%), 14(+4%) and 29(+7%) msec at the 3 dose levels. The respective mean maximum increases above baseline of the QTc interval, in msec (%), were 23(+6%), 36(+9%) and 55(+14%) msec at the 3 dose levels. The steadystate percent increases in the RR interval were 3, 9 and 12%. The smallest children (BSA < 0.33m²) showed a tendency for larger Class III effects (ΔQTc) and an increased frequency of prolongations of the QTc interval as compared with larger children (BSA ≥ 0.33m²). The beta-blocking effects also tended to be greater in the smaller children (BSA < 0.33m²). Both the Class III and beta-blocking effects of sotalol were linearly related with the plasma concentrations.
In a study of systemic hemodynamic function measured invasively in 12 patients with a mean LV ejection fraction of 37% and ventricular tachycardia (9 sustained and 3 non-sustained), a median dose of 160 mg twice daily of Betapace (sotalol) produced a 28% reduction in heart rate and a 24% decrease in cardiac index at 2 hours post dosing at steady-state. Concurrently, systemic vascular resistance and stroke volume showed nonsignificant increases of 25% and 8%, respectively. Pulmonary capillary wedge pressure increased significantly from 6.4 mmHg to 11.8 mmHg in the 11 patients who completed the study. One patient was discontinued because of worsening congestive heart failure. Mean arterial pressure, mean pulmonary artery pressure and stroke work index did not significantly change. Exercise and isoproterenol induced tachycardia are antagonized by Betapace (sotalol) , and total peripheral resistance increases by a small amount.
In hypertensive patients, Betapace (sotalol hydrochloride) produces significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressures. Although Betapace (sotalol hydrochloride) is usually well-tolerated hemodynamically, caution should be exercised in patients with marginal cardiac compensation as deterioration in cardiac performance may occur (See WARNINGS: Congestive Heart Failure).
Betapace (sotalol hydrochloride) has been studied in life-threatening and less severe arrhythmias. In patients with frequent premature ventricular complexes (VPC), Betapace (sotalol hydrochloride) was significantly superior to placebo in reducing VPCs, paired VPCs and non-sustained ventricular tachycardia (NSVT); the response was dose-related through 640 mg/day with 80-85% of patients having at least a 75% reduction of VPCs. Betapace (sotalol hydrochloride) was also superior, at the doses evaluated, to propranolol (40-80 mg TID) and similar to quinidine (200-400 mg QID) in reducing VPCs. In patients with lifethreatening arrhythmias [sustained ventricular tachycardia/fibrillation (VT/VF)], Betapace (sotalol hydrochloride) was studied acutely [by suppression of programmed electrical stimulation (PES) induced VT and by suppression of Holter monitor evidence of sustained VT] and, in acute responders, chronically.
In a double-blind, randomized comparison of Betapace (sotalol) and procainamide given intravenously (total of 2 mg/kg Betapace (sotalol) vs. 19 mg/kg of procainamide over 90 minutes), Betapace (sotalol) suppressed PES induction in 30% of patients vs. 20% for procainamide (p=0.2).
In a randomized clinical trial [Electrophysiologic Study Versus Electrocardiographic Monitoring (ESVEM) Trial] comparing choice of antiarrhythmic therapy by PES suppression vs. Holter monitor selection (in each case followed by treadmill exercise testing) in patients with a history of sustained VT/VF who were also inducible by PES, the effectiveness acutely and chronically of Betapace (sotalol hydrochloride) was compared with 6 other drugs (procainamide, quinidine, mexiletine, propafenone, imipramine and pirmenol). Overall response, limited to first randomized drug, was 39% for sotalol and 30% for the pooled other drugs. Acute response rate for first drug randomized using suppression of PES induction was 36% for Betapace (sotalol) vs. a mean of 13% for the other drugs. Using the Holter monitoring endpoint (complete suppression of sustained VT, 90% suppression of NSVT, 80% suppression of VPC pairs, and at least 70% suppression of VPCs), Betapace (sotalol) yielded 41% response vs. 45% for the other drugs combined. Among responders placed on long-term therapy identified acutely as effective (by either PES or Holter), Betapace (sotalol) , when compared to the pool of other drugs, had the lowest two-year mortality (13% vs. 22%), the lowest two-year VT recurrence rate (30% vs. 60%), and the lowest withdrawal rate (38% vs. about 75-80%). The most commonly used doses of Betapace (sotalol hydrochloride) in this trial were 320-480 mg/day (66% of patients), with 16% receiving 240 mg/day or less and 18% receiving 640 mg or more.
It cannot be determined, however, in the absence of a controlled comparison of Betapace (sotalol) vs. no pharmacologic treatment (e.g., in patients with implanted defibrillators) whether Betapace (sotalol) response causes improved survival or identifies a population with a good prognosis.
In a large double-blind, placebo controlled secondary prevention (postinfarction) trial (n=1,456), Betapace (sotalol hydrochloride) was given as a non-titrated initial dose of 320 mg once daily. Betapace (sotalol) did not produce a significant increase in survival (7.3% mortality on Betapace (sotalol) vs. 8.9% on placebo, p=0.3), but overall did not suggest an adverse effect on survival. There was, however, a suggestion of an early (i.e., first 10 days) excess mortality (3% on sotalol vs. 2% on placebo). In a second small trial (n=17 randomized to sotalol) where sotalol was administered at high doses (e.g., 320 mg twice daily) to high-risk post-infarction patients (ejection fraction < 40% and either > 10 VPC/hr or VT on Holter), there were 4 fatalities and 3 serious hemodynamic/electrical adverse events within two weeks of initiating sotalol.
In healthy subjects, the oral bioavailability of Betapace (sotalol hydrochloride) is 90-100%. After oral administration, peak plasma concentrations are reached in 2.5 to 4 hours, and steady-state plasma concentrations are attained within 2-3 days (i.e., after 5-6 doses when administered twice daily). Over the dosage range 160-640 mg/day Betapace (sotalol hydrochloride) displays dose proportionality with respect to plasma concentrations. Distribution occurs to a central (plasma) and to a peripheral compartment, with a mean elimination half-life of 12 hours. Dosing every 12 hours results in trough plasma concentrations which are approximately one-half of those at peak.
Betapace (sotalol hydrochloride) does not bind to plasma proteins and is not metabolized. Betapace (sotalol hydrochloride) shows very little intersubject variability in plasma levels. The pharmacokinetics of the d and l enantiomers of sotalol are essentially identical. Betapace (sotalol hydrochloride) crosses the blood brain barrier poorly. Excretion is predominantly via the kidney in the unchanged form, and therefore lower doses are necessary in conditions of renal impairment (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION). Age per se does not significantly alter the pharmacokinetics of Betapace (sotalol) , but impaired renal function in geriatric patients can increase the terminal elimination half-life, resulting in increased drug accumulation. The absorption of Betapace (sotalol hydrochloride) was reduced by approximately 20% compared to fasting when it was administered with a standard meal. Since Betapace (sotalol hydrochloride) is not subject to first-pass metabolism, patients with hepatic impairment show no alteration in clearance of Betapace (sotalol) .
The combined analysis of two unblinded, multicenter trials (a single dose and a multiple dose study) with 59 children, aged between 3 days and 12 years, showed the pharmacokinetics of sotalol to be first order. A daily dose of 30 mg/m² of sotalol was administered in the single dose study and daily doses of 30, 90 and 210 mg/m² were administered q 8h in the multi-dose study. After rapid absorption with peak levels occurring on average between 2-3 hours following administration, sotalol was eliminated with a mean half life of 9.5 hours. Steady-state was reached after 1-2 days. The average peak to trough concentration ratio was 2. BSA was the most important covariate and more relevant than age for the pharmacokinetics of sotalol.The smallest children (BSA < 0.33m²) exhibited a greater drug exposure (+59%) than the larger children who showed a uniform drug concentration profile. The intersubject variation for oral clearance was 22%.
Last reviewed on RxList: 3/24/2011
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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