December 1, 2015
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Side Effects


The following adverse reactions are described in WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS: hypotension, rhythm disturbances, hepatic injury, pulmonary injury, thyroid injury, hypersensitivity.

Clinical Trials Experience

Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical trials of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.

In a total of 1836 patients in controlled and uncontrolled clinical trials, 14% of patients received intravenous amiodarone for at least one week, 5% received it for at least 2 weeks, 2% received it for at least 3 weeks, and 1% received it for more than 3 weeks, without an increased incidence of severe adverse reactions. The mean duration of therapy in these studies was 5.6 days; median exposure was 3.7 days.

The most important adverse reactions were hypotension, asystole/cardiac arrest/pulseless electrical activity (PEA), cardiogenic shock, congestive heart failure, bradycardia, liver function test abnormalities, VT, and AV block. Overall, treatment was discontinued for about 9% of the patients because of adverse reactions. The most common adverse reactions leading to discontinuation of intravenous amiodarone therapy were hypotension (1.6%), asystole/cardiac arrest/PEA (1.2%), VT (1.1%), and cardiogenic shock (1%).

Table 4 lists the most common (incidence ≥ 2%) adverse reactions during intravenous amiodarone therapy considered at least possibly drug-related. These data were collected in clinical trials involving 1836 patients with life-threatening VT/VF. Data from all assigned treatment groups are pooled because none of the adverse reactions appeared to be dose-related.


Study Event Controlled Studies
(n = 814)
Open-Label Studies
(n = 1022)
(n = 1836)
Body as a whole
Fever 24(2.9%) 13 (1.2%) 37 (2.0%)
Cardiovascular System
Bradycardia 49(6.0%) 41 (4.0%) 90 (4.9%)
Congestive heart failure 18(2.2%) 21 (2.0%) 39 (2.1%)
Heart arrest 29(3.5%) 26 (2.5%) 55 (2.9%)
Hypotension 165(20.2%) 123 (12.0%) 288 (15.6%)
Ventricular tachycardia 15(1.8%) 30 (2.9%) 45 (2.4%)
Digestive System
Liver function tests abnormal 35(4.2%) 29 (2.8%) 64 (3.4%)
Nausea 29(3.5%) 43 (4.2%) 72 (3.9%)

Other adverse reactions reported in less than 2% of patients receiving intravenous amiodarone in controlled and uncontrolled studies included the following: abnormal kidney function, atrial fibrillation, diarrhea, increased ALT, increased AST, lung edema, nodal arrhythmia, prolonged QT interval, atrioventricular block, respiratory disorder, shock, sinus bradycardia, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, thrombocytopenia, VF, and vomiting.

Post-Marketing Experience

The following adverse reactions have been reported in the post-marketing experience during or in close temporal relationship to intravenous amiodarone administration. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.

Blood and Lymphatic System Disorders: pancytopenia, neutropenia, hemolytic anemia, aplastic anemia, thrombocytopenia, and granulocytosis.

Cardiac Disorders: sinus node dysfunction (sinus arrest, sinoatrial block), intraventricular conduction disorders including bundle branch block and infra-HIS block, bradycardia (sometimes fatal), ventricular extrasystoles, and antegrade conduction via an accessory pathway.

Endocrine Disorders: syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH)

Eye Disorders: visual field defect and blurred vision.

Gastrointestinal Disorders: pancreatitis.

General Disorders and Administration Site Conditions: infusion site reactions, including thombosis, phlebitis, thrombophlebitis, cellulitis, pain, induration, edema, inflammation, urticaria, pruritus, erythema, pigment changes, hypoesthesia, skin sloughing, extravasation possibly leading to venous/infusion site necrosis, intravascular amiodarone deposition/mass (developed in the superior vena cava around acentral venous catheter after long – term [28 days] amiodarone therapy administered through a central line), and granuloma.

Hepatobiliary Disorders: cholestasis, cirrhosis, jaundice, alkaline phosphatase and blood lactate dehydrogenase increase.

Musculoskeletal and Connective Tissue Disorders: myopathy, muscle weakness, rhabdomyolysis, muscle spasms, and back pain.

Neoplasms benign, malignant and unspecified (incl cysts and polyps) Disorders: thyroid nodules/thyroid cancer.

Nervous System Disorders: intracranial pressure increased, pseudotumor cerebri, tremor, dizziness and hypoesthesia.

Psychiatric Disorders: confusional state, hallucination, disorientation, and delirium.

Renal and Urinary Disorders: acute renal failure (sometimes fatal), renal impairment, renal insufficiency, and blood creatinine increased.

Reproductive Disorders and Breast Disorders: Epididymitis

Respiratory, Thoracic and Mediastinal Disorders: interstitial pneumonitis, bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia (possibly fatal), pulmonary alveolar hemorrhage, pulmonary phospholipidoisis, pleural effusion, bronchospasm, dyspnea, cough, hemoptysis, wheezing, and hypoxia.

Skin and Subcutaneous Tissue Disorders: toxic epidermal necrolysis (sometimes fatal), Stevens-Johnson syndrome, exfoliative dermatitis, erythema multiforme, skin cancer, pruritus, angioedema, and urticaria.

Vascular Disorders: vasculitis and flushing.

Read the Nexterone (amiodarone hcl injection) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects


Pharmacodynamic Interactions

Drugs Prolonging the QT Interval

Co-administration of drugs prolonging the QT interval (such as class I and III antiarrhythmics, lithium, certain phenothiazines, tricyclic antidepressants, certain fluoroquinolone and macrolide antibiotics, azole antifungals, halogenated inhalation anesthetic agents) increases the risk of Torsade de Pointes. In general, avoid concomitant use of drugs that prolong the QT interval [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Drugs That Slow Heart Rate

Concomitant use of drugs with depressant effects on the sinus and AV node (e.g., digoxin, beta blockers, verapamil, diltiazem, clonidine) can potentiate the electrophysiologic and hemodynamic effects of amiodarone, resulting in bradycardia, sinus arrest, and AV block. Monitor heart rate in patients on amiodarone and concomitant drugs that slow heart rate.

Pharmacokinetic Interactions

Effect Of Other Drugs On Amiodarone

Amiodarone is metabolized to the active metabolite desethylamiodarone (DEA) by the cytochrome P450 (CYP450) enzyme group, specifically CYP3A and CYP2C8. Amiodarone has the potential for interactions with drugs or substances that may be substrates, inhibitors or inducers of CYP450 enzymes (e.g., inhibitors such as protease inhibitors, grapefruit juice, certain fluoroquinolone and macrolide antibiotics, azole antifungals and inducers such as St. John's Wort) or P-glycoprotein. In view of the long and variable half-life of amiodarone, potential for drug interactions exists not only with concomitant medication but also with drugs administered after discontinuation of amiodarone [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Patients should avoid grapefruit juice beverages while taking amiodarone because exposure to amiodarone is significantly increased [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Effect Of Amiodarone On Other Drugs

Amiodarone and DEA are inhibitors of P-glycoprotein and certain CYP450 enzymes, including CYP1A2, CYP2C9, CYP2D6 and CYP3A [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Antiarrhythmics: The metabolism of quinidine, procainamide, flecainide can be inhibited by amiodarone. In general, initiate any added antiarrhythmic drug at a lower than usual dose and monitor the patient carefully. During transfer to oral amiodarone, reduce the dose levels of previously administered agents by 30 to 50% several days after the addition of oral amiodarone. Review the continued need for the other antiarrhythmic agent after the effects of amiodarone have been established, and attempt discontinuation [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Digoxin: In patients receiving digoxin therapy, administration of oral amiodarone results in an increase in serum digoxin concentration. Reduce dose of digoxin by half or discontinue digoxin. If digitalis treatment is continued, monitor serum levels closely and observe patients for clinical evidence of toxicity [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

HMG-CoA Reductase Inhibitors: Limit the dose of simvastatin in patients on amiodarone to 20 mg daily. Limit the daily dose of lovastatin to 40 mg. Lower starting and maintenance doses of other CYP3A4 substrates (e.g., atorvastatin) may be required as amiodarone may increase the plasma concentration of these drugs.

Anticoagulants: Potentiation of warfarin-type (CYP2C9 and CYP3A substrate) anticoagulant response is almost always seen in patients receiving amiodarone and can result in serious or fatal bleeding. Since the concomitant administration of warfarin with amiodarone increases the INR by 100% after 3 to 4 days, reduce the dose of the anticoagulant by one-third to one-half, and monitor INR closely.

Cyclosporine (CYP3A substrate) administered in combination with oral amiodarone has been reported to produce persistently elevated plasma concentrations of cyclosporine resulting in elevated creatinine, despite reduction in dose of cyclosporine. Monitor cyclosporine drug levels and renal function in patients taking both drugs.

Increased steady-state levels of phenytoin during concomitant therapy with amiodarone have been reported. Monitor phenytoin levels in patients taking both drugs.

Read the Nexterone Drug Interactions Center for a complete guide to possible interactions

This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Last reviewed on RxList: 3/25/2015

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