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NEXTERONE should be administered only by physicians who are experienced in the treatment of life-threatening arrhythmias, who are thoroughly familiar with the risks and benefits of amiodarone therapy, and who have access to facilities adequate for monitoring the effectiveness and side effects of treatment.
Because of the long half-life of amiodarone and its metabolite desethylamiodarone, the potential for adverse reactions or interactions, as well as observed adverse effects, can persist following amiodarone withdrawal.
Hypotension is the most common adverse reaction seen with intravenous amiodarone. In clinical trials, treatment-emergent, drug-related hypotension was reported as an adverse effect in 288 (16%) of 1836 patients treated with intravenous amiodarone. Clinically significant hypotension during infusions was seen most often in the first several hours of treatment and was not dose related, but appeared to be related to the rate of infusion. Hypotension necessitating alterations in intravenous amiodarone therapy was reported in 3% of patients, with permanent discontinuation required in less than 2% of patients.
Treat hypotension initially by slowing the infusion; additional standard therapy may be needed, including the following: vasopressor drugs, positive inotropic agents, and volume expansion. Monitor the initial rate of infusion closely and do not exceed the recommended rate [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
Bradycardia And Atrio-ventricular Block
In 90 (4.9%) of 1836 patients in clinical trials, drug-related bradycardia that was not dose-related occurred while they were receiving intravenous amiodarone for life-threatening VT/VF. Treat bradycardia by slowing the infusion rate or discontinuing NEXTERONE. In some patients, inserting a pacemaker is required. Despite such measures, bradycardia was progressive and terminal in 1 patient during the controlled trials. Treat patients with a known predisposition to bradycardia or AV block with NEXTERONE in a setting where a temporary pacemaker is available.
Elevations of blood hepatic enzyme values [alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT)] are commonly seen in patients with immediately life-threatening VT/VF. Interpreting elevated AST activity can be difficult because the values may be elevated in patients who have had recent myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, or multiple electrical defibrillations. Approximately 54% of patients receiving intravenous amiodarone in clinical studies had baseline liver enzyme elevations, and 13% had clinically significant elevations. In 81% of patients with both baseline and on-therapy data available, the liver enzyme elevations either improved during therapy or remained at baseline levels. Baseline abnormalities in hepatic enzymes are not a contraindication to treatment. Elevated bilirubin levels have been reported in patients administered intravenous amiodarone.
Acute, centrolobular confluent hepatocellular necrosis leading to hepatic coma, acute renal failure, and death has been associated with the administration of intravenous amiodarone (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).
In patients with life-threatening arrhythmias, the potential risk of hepatic injury should be weighed against the potential benefit of NEXTERONE therapy. Carefully monitor patients receiving NEXTERONE for evidence of progressive hepatic injury. In such cases, consider reducing the rate of administration or withdrawing NEXTERONE.
Like all antiarrhythmic agents, NEXTERONE may cause a worsening of existing arrhythmias or precipitate a new arrhythmia, sometimes leading to fatal outcomes [see ADVERSE REACTIONS]. Proarrhythmia, primarily torsade de pointes (TdP), has been associated with prolongation, by intravenous amiodarone, of the QTc interval to 500 ms or greater. Although QTc prolongation occurred frequently in patients receiving intravenous amiodarone, TdP or new-onset VF occurred infrequently (less than 2%). Monitor patients for QTc prolongation during infusion with NEXTERONE. Reserve the combination of amiodarone with other antiarrhythmic therapies that prolong the QTc to patients with life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias who are incompletely responsive to a single agent.
Correct hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia or hypocalcemia whenever possible before initiating treatment with NEXTERONE, as these disorders can exaggerate the degree of QTc prolongation and increase the potential for TdP. Give special attention to electrolyte and acid-base balance in patients experiencing severe or prolonged diarrhea or in patients receiving concomitant diuretics and laxatives.
Amiodarone causes thyroid dysfunction in some patients, which may lead to potentially fatal breakthrough or exacerbated arrhythmias.
Early-onset Pulmonary Toxicity
There have been postmarketing reports of acute-onset (days to weeks) pulmonary injury in patients treated with intravenous amiodarone. Findings have included pulmonary infiltrates and masses on X-ray, bronchospasm, wheezing, fever, dyspnea, cough, hemoptysis, and hypoxia. Some cases have progressed to respiratory failure or death.
There have been reports of early development of pulmonary fibrosis (within 1 to 3 months) following initiation of amiodarone treatment. Only 1 of more than 1000 patients treated with intravenous amiodarone in clinical studies developed pulmonary fibrosis. In that patient, the condition was diagnosed 3 months after treatment with intravenous amiodarone, during which time the patient received oral amiodarone. Pulmonary toxicity is a well-recognized complication of long-term amiodarone use (see package insert for oral amiodarone).
Loss Of Vision
Cases of optic neuropathy and optic neuritis, usually resulting in visual impairment, have been reported in patients treated with oral amiodarone or intravenous amiodarone. In some cases, visual impairment has progressed to permanent blindness. Optic neuropathy and neuritis may occur at any time following initiation of therapy. A causal relationship to the drug has not been clearly established. Perform an ophthalmic examination if symptoms of visual impairment appear, such as changes in visual acuity and decreases in peripheral vision. Re-evaluate the necessity of amiodarone therapy if optic neuropathy or neuritis is suspected. Perform regular ophthalmic examination, including fundoscopy and slit-lamp examination, during administration of NEXTERONE.
Amiodarone inhibits peripheral conversion of thyroxine (T4) to triiodothyronine (T3) and may cause increased T4 levels, decreased T3 levels, and increased levels of inactive reverse T3 (rT3) in clinically euthyroid patients. Amiodarone is also a potential source of large amounts of inorganic iodine and can cause either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Evaluate thyroid function prior to treatment and periodically thereafter, particularly in elderly patients, and in any patient with a history of thyroid nodules, goiter, or other thyroid dysfunction. Because of the slow elimination of amiodarone and its metabolites, high plasma iodide levels, altered thyroid function, and abnormal thyroid-function tests may persist for several weeks or even months following NEXTERONE withdrawal.
There have been postmarketing reports of thyroid nodules/thyroid cancer in patients treated with amiodarone. In some instances hyperthyroidism was also present.
Hyperthyroidism and Thyrotoxicosis
Amiodarone causes hyperthyroidism in about 2% of patients. Thyrotoxicosis and arrhythmia with fatal outcome has been reported in the presence of pre-existing hyperthyroidism even following a single intravenous amiodarone dose. Consider the possibility of hyperthyroidism if any new signs of arrhythmia appear.
Hyperthyroidism may result from iodine load (type 1 amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis [type 1 AIT]; in particular in patients with underlying autonomous thyroid nodules or latent Grave's disease). Hyperthyroidism may also result from direct amiodaroneinduced destructive thyroiditis that occurs in individuals with no underlying thyroid disease (type 2 AIT), resulting in the release of preformed thyroid hormone into the bloodstream from damaged thyroid follicular epithelium. Mixed forms of hyperthyroidism as a result of both pathogenic mechanisms (excessive thyroid hormone production and thyroid destruction) can also occur. The risk of hyperthyroidism may be higher among patients with prior inadequate dietary iodine intake.
Identify hyperthyroidism by relevant clinical signs and symptoms, subnormal serum levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), abnormally elevated serum free T4, and elevated or normal serum T3. Since arrhythmia breakthroughs may accompany amiodarone-induced hyperthyroidism, aggressive medical treatment is indicated, including, if possible, dose reduction or withdrawal of amiodarone. Amiodarone hyperthyroidism may be followed by a transient period of hypothyroidism.
The institution of antithyroid drugs, β-adrenergic blockers or temporary corticosteroid therapy may be necessary. The action of antithyroid drugs may be especially delayed in amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis because of substantial quantities of preformed thyroid hormones stored in the gland. Radioactive iodine therapy is not recommended because of the low radioiodine uptake associated with amiodarone-induced hyperthyroidism.
When aggressive treatment of amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis has failed or amiodarone cannot be discontinued because it is the only drug effective against the resistant arrhythmia, surgical management may be an option. Experience with thyroidectomy as a treatment for amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis is limited, and this form of therapy could induce thyroid storm. Therefore, surgical and anesthetic management require careful planning.
Hypothyroidism has been reported in 2 to 10% of patients receiving amiodarone and may be primary or subsequent to resolution of preceding amiodarone-induced hyperthyroidism. This condition may be identified by clinical symptoms and elevated serum TSH levels. Cases of severe hypothyroidism and myxedema coma, sometimes fatal, have been reported in association with amiodarone therapy. In some clinically hypothyroid amiodarone-treated patients, free thyroxine index values may be normal. Manage hypothyroidism by reducing the dose of or discontinuing NEXTERONE and considering the need for thyroid hormone supplement.
Amiodarone can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. Fetal exposure may increase the potential for adverse experiences including cardiac, thyroid, neurodevelopmental, neurological and growth effects in neonate. Inform the patient of the potential hazard to the fetus if NEXTERONE is administered during pregnancy or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking NEXTERONE [See Pregnancy].
Exaggerated Effects Of Perisurgical Therapy
Perform close perioperative monitoring in patients undergoing general anesthesia who are on amiodarone therapy as they may be more sensitive to the myocardial depressant and conduction defects of halogenated inhalational anesthetics.
Interference With Corneal Refractive Laser Surgery
Anaphylactic/anaphylactoid reactions have been reported with intravenous amiodarone including shock (sometimes fatal), cardiac arrest, and the following manifestations: hypotension, tachycardia, hypoxia, cyanosis, rash, flushing, hyperhidrosis and cold sweat. Since NEXTERONE contains dextrose, patients with allergy to corn or corn products are at risk for allergic reaction.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility
No carcinogenicity studies were conducted with intravenous administration of amiodarone. However, oral amiodarone caused a statistically significant, dose-related increase in the incidence of thyroid tumors (follicular adenoma and carcinoma) in rats. The incidence of thyroid tumors in rats was greater than the incidence in controls even at the lowest dose level tested, i.e., 5 mg/kg/day (much less, on a body surface area basis, than the maximum recommended human maintenance dose of 600 mg/day).
Mutagenicity studies conducted with amiodarone HCl (Ames, micronucleus, and lysogenic induction tests) were negative.
No fertility studies were conducted with intravenous administration of amiodarone. However, in a study in which amiodarone HCl was orally administered to male and female rats, beginning 9 weeks prior to mating, reduced fertility was observed at a dose level of 90 mg/kg/day (approximately 1.4 times the maximum recommended human maintenance dose of 600 mg/day).
Use In Specific Populations
Pregnancy Category D [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Amiodarone and desethylamiodarone cross the placenta.
Reported risks include
- neonatal bradycardia, QT prolongation, and periodic ventricular extrasystoles
- neonatal hypothyroidism (with or without goiter) detected antenatally or in the newborn and reported even after a few days of exposure
- neonatal hyperthyroxinemia
- neurodevelopmental abnormalities independent of thyroid function, including speech delay and difficulties with written language and arithmetic, delayed motor development, and ataxia.
- jerk nystagmus with synchronous head titubation
- fetal growth retardation
- premature birth
Amiodarone has caused a variety of adverse effects in animals.
Amiodarone was given intravenously to rabbits at dosages of 5, 10, or 25 mg/kg per day (about 0.1, 0.3, and 0.7 times human intravenous maintenance dose of 0.5mg/min on a body surface area basis), during gestation days 8 to 16 (organogenesis). The incidence of maternal deaths increased with increasing dose and occurred in all treated groups and controls. Mean fetal weights were significantly decreased in the low and middle dose groups and embryotoxicity (as manifested by fewer full-term fetuses and increased resorptions) occurred at dosages of 10 mg/kg and above. There were no significant differences in the number of minor fetal abnormalities and no major fetal abnormalities were observed.
Amiodarone was administered by continuous intravenous infusion to rats at dosages of 25, 50, or 100 mg/kg per day (about 0.3, 0.7 and 1.3 times the human intravenous maintenance dose of 0.5 mg/min on a body surface area basis) during gestation days 8 to 16 (organogenesis). Maternal toxicity (manifest as reduced weight gain and food consumption) and embryotoxicity (manifest as increased resorptions, decreased live litter size and fetal body weights, and delayed sternal and metacarpal ossification) were observed in the 100 mg/kg group. The delayed ossification was reversible and related to decreased fetal weight. Fetal thyroid tissues appeared normal in all groups.
Very high concentrations of amiodarone and desethylamiodarone may be found in testes. An elevated follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone levels, suggestive of testicular dysfunction, have been reported in men on long-term amiodarone treatment.
While planning pregnancy after discontinuation of amiodarone treatment, consider the long half-life of amiodarone and its metabolite DEA.
Labor And Delivery
It is not known whether the use of amiodarone during labor or delivery has any immediate or delayed adverse effects. Preclinical studies in rodents have not shown any effect on the duration of gestation or on parturition.
Amiodarone and one of its major metabolites, desethylamiodarone (DEA), are excreted in human milk, suggesting that breast-feeding could expose the nursing infant to a significant dose of the drug. Nursing offspring of lactating rats administered amiodarone have demonstrated reduced viability and transient reduced body weight gains. The risk of exposing the infant to amiodarone and DEA must be weighed against the potential benefit of arrhythmia suppression in the mother. Advise the mother to discontinue nursing.
The safety and effectiveness of amiodarone in pediatric patients have not been established; therefore, the use of amiodarone in pediatric patients is not recommended. In a pediatric trial of 61 patients, aged 30 days to 15 years, hypotension (36%), bradycardia (20%), and AV block (15%) were common dose-related adverse reactions and were severe or life-threatening in some cases. Injection site reactions were seen in 5 (25%) of the 20 patients receiving intravenous amiodarone through a peripheral vein irrespective of dose regimen.
Clinical studies of amiodarone did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. Carefully consider dose selection in an elderly patient. In general, start at the low end of the dosing range in the elderly to reflect the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and concomitant disease or other drug therapy.
Last reviewed on RxList: 3/25/2015
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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