May 24, 2016
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Ventricular Arrhythmia

TIKOSYN (dofetilide) can cause serious ventricular arrhythmias, primarily Torsade de Pointes (TdP) type ventricular tachycardia, a polymorphic ventricular tachycardia associated with QT interval prolongation. QT interval prolongation is directly related to dofetilide plasma concentration. Factors such as reduced creatinine clearance or certain dofetilide drug interactions will increase dofetilide plasma concentration. The risk of TdP can be reduced by controlling the plasma concentration through adjustment of the initial dofetilide dose according to creatinine clearance and by monitoring the ECG for excessive increases in the QT interval.

Treatment with dofetilide must therefore be started only in patients placed for a minimum of three days in a facility that can provide electrocardiographic monitoring and in the presence of personnel trained in the management of serious ventricular arrhythmias. Calculation of the creatinine clearance for all patients must precede administration of the first dose of dofetilide. For detailed instructions regarding dose selection, see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION.

The risk of dofetilide induced ventricular arrhythmia was assessed in three ways in clinical studies: 1) by description of the QT interval and its relation to the dose and plasma concentration of dofetilide; 2) by observing the frequency of TdP in TIKOSYN-treated patients according to dose; 3) by observing the overall mortality rate in patients with atrial fibrillation and in patients with structural heart disease.

Relation Of QT Interval To Dose

The QT interval increases linearly with increasing TIKOSYN dose (see Figures 1 and 2 in CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY and Dose- Response and Concentration Response for Increase in QT Interval).

Frequency Of Torsade De Pointes

In the supraventricular arrhythmia population (patients with AF and other supraventricular arrhythmias), the overall incidence of Torsade de Pointes was 0.8%. The frequency of TdP by dose is shown in Table 4. There were no cases of TdP on placebo.

Table 4: Summary of Torsade de Pointes in Patients Randomized to Dofetilide by Dose; Patients with Supraventricular Arrhythmias

< 250 mcg BID 250 mcg BID > 250-500 mcg BID > 500 mcg BID All Doses
Number of Patients 217 388 703 38 1346
Torsade de Pointes 0 1 (0.3%) 6 (0.9%) 4 (10.5%) 11 (0.8%)

As shown in Table 5, the rate of TdP was reduced when patients were dosed according to their renal function (see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, Pharmacokinetics in Special Populations, Renal Impairment and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

Table 5: Incidence of Torsade de Pointes Before and After Introduction of Dosing According to Renal Function

Population: Total
n/N %
n/N %
n/N %
Supraventricular Arrhythmias 11/1346 (0.8%) 6/193 (3.1%) 5/1153 (0.4%)
DIAMOND CHF 25/762 (3.3%) 7/148 (4.7%) 18/614 (2.9%)
DIAMOND MI 7/749 (0.9%) 3/101 (3.0%) 4/648 (0.6%)
DIAMOND AF 4/249 (1.6%) 0/43 (0%) 4/206 (1.9%)

The majority of the episodes of TdP occurred within the first three days of TIKOSYN therapy (10/11 events in the studies of patients with supraventricular arrhythmias; 19/25 and 4/7 events in DIAMOND CHF and DIAMOND MI, respectively; 2/4 events in the DIAMOND AF subpopulation).


In a pooled survival analysis of patients in the supraventricular arrhythmia population (low prevalence of structural heart disease), deaths occurred in 0.9% (12/1346) of patients receiving TIKOSYN and 0.4% (3/677) in the placebo group. Adjusted for duration of therapy, primary diagnosis, age, gender, and prevalence of structural heart disease, the point estimate of the hazard ratio for the pooled studies (TIKOSYN/placebo) was 1.1 (95% CI: 0.3, 4.3). The DIAMOND CHF and MI trials examined mortality in patients with structural heart disease (ejection fraction ≤ 35%). In these large, double-blind studies, deaths occurred in 36% (541/1511) of TIKOSYN patients and 37% (560/1517) of placebo patients. In an analysis of 506 DIAMOND patients with atrial fibrillation/flutter at baseline, one year mortality on TIKOSYN was 31% vs. 32% on placebo (see Clinical Studies).

Because of the small number of events, an excess mortality due to TIKOSYN cannot be ruled out with confidence in the pooled survival analysis of placebo-controlled trials in patients with supraventricular arrhythmias. However, it is reassuring that in two large placebocontrolled mortality studies in patients with significant heart disease (DIAMOND CHF/MI), there were no more deaths in TIKOSYNtreated patients than in patients given placebo (see Clinical Studies).

Drug-Drug Interactions


Because there is a linear relationship between dofetilide plasma concentration and QTc, concomitant drugs that interfere with the metabolism or renal elimination of dofetilide may increase the risk of arrhythmia (Torsade de Pointes). TIKOSYN is metabolized to a small degree by the CYP3A4 isoenzyme of the cytochrome P450 system and an inhibitor of this system could increase systemic dofetilide exposure. More important, dofetilide is eliminated by cationic renal secretion, and three inhibitors of this process have been shown to increase systemic dofetilide exposure. The magnitude of the effect on renal elimination by cimetidine, trimethoprim, and ketoconazole (all contraindicated concomitant uses with dofetilide) suggests that all renal cation transport inhibitors should be contraindicated.

Hypokalemia And Potassium-Depleting Diuretics

Hypokalemia or hypomagnesemia may occur with administration of potassium-depleting diuretics, increasing the potential for Torsade de Pointes. Potassium levels should be within the normal range prior to administration of TIKOSYN and maintained in the normal range during administration of TIKOSYN (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

Use With Drugs That Prolong QT Interval And Antiarrhythmic Agents

The use of TIKOSYN in conjunction with other drugs that prolong the QT interval has not been studied and is not recommended. Such drugs include phenothiazines, cisapride, bepridil, tricyclic antidepressants, certain oral macrolides, and certain fluoroquinolones. Class I or Class III antiarrhythmic agents should be withheld for at least three half-lives prior to dosing with TIKOSYN. In clinical trials, TIKOSYN was administered to patients previously treated with oral amiodarone only if serum amiodarone levels were below 0.3 mg/L or amiodarone had been withdrawn for at least three months.


Renal Impairment

The overall systemic clearance of dofetilide is decreased and plasma concentration increased with decreasing creatinine clearance. The dose of TIKOSYN must be adjusted based on creatinine clearance (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION). Patients undergoing dialysis were not included in clinical studies, and appropriate dosing recommendations for these patients are unknown. There is no information about the effectiveness of hemodialysis in removing dofetilide from plasma.

Hepatic Impairment

After adjustment for creatinine clearance, no additional dose adjustment is required for patients with mild or moderate hepatic impairment. Patients with severe hepatic impairment have not been studied. TIKOSYN should be used with particular caution in these patients.

Cardiac Conduction Disturbances

Animal and human studies have not shown any adverse effects of dofetilide on conduction velocity. No effect on AV nodal conduction following TIKOSYN treatment was noted in normal volunteers and in patients with 1st degree heart block. Patients with sick sinus syndrome or with 2nd or 3rd degree heart block were not included in the Phase 3 clinical trials unless a functioning pacemaker was present. TIKOSYN has been used safely in conjunction with pacemakers (53 patients in DIAMOND studies, 136 in trials in patients with ventricular and supraventricular arrhythmias).

Information For Patients

Please refer patient to the Medication Guide.

Prior to initiation of TIKOSYN therapy, the patient should be advised to read the Medication Guide and reread it each time therapy is renewed in case the patient's status has changed. The patient should be fully instructed on the need for compliance with the recommended dosing of TIKOSYN and the potential for drug interactions, and the need for periodic monitoring of QTc and renal function to minimize the risk of serious abnormal rhythms.

Medications And Supplements

Assessment of patients' medication history should include all over-the-counter, prescription, and herbal/natural preparations with emphasis on preparations that may affect the pharmacokinetics of TIKOSYN such as cimetidine (see CONTRAINDICATIONS), trimethoprim alone or in combination with sulfamethoxazole (see WARNINGS, CONTRAINDICATIONS), prochlorperazine (see WARNINGS, CONTRAINDICATIONS), megestrol (see WARNINGS, CONTRAINDICATIONS), ketoconazole (see WARNINGS, CONTRAINDICATIONS), dolutegravir (see CONTRAINDICATIONS), hydrochlorothiazide (alone or in combinations such as with triamterene) (see CONTRAINDICATIONS), other cardiovascular drugs (especially verapamil – see CONTRAINDICATIONS), phenothiazines, and tricyclic antidepressants (see WARNINGS). If a patient is taking TIKOSYN and requires anti-ulcer therapy, omeprazole, ranitidine, or antacids (aluminum and magnesium hydroxides) should be used as alternatives to cimetidine, as these agents have no effect on the pharmacokinetics of TIKOSYN. Patients should be instructed to notify their health care providers of any change in over-thecounter, prescription, or supplement use. If a patient is hospitalized or is prescribed a new medication for any condition, the patient must inform the health care provider of ongoing TIKOSYN therapy. Patients should also check with their health care provider and/or pharmacist prior to taking a new over-the-counter preparation.

Electrolyte Imbalance

If patients experience symptoms that may be associated with altered electrolyte balance, such as excessive or prolonged diarrhea, sweating, or vomiting or loss of appetite or thirst, these conditions should immediately be reported to their health care provider.

Dosing Schedule

Patients should be instructed NOT to double the next dose if a dose is missed. The next dose should be taken at the usual time.

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility

Dofetilide had no genotoxic effects, with or without metabolic activation, based on the bacterial mutation assay and tests of cytogenetic aberrations in vivo in mouse bone marrow and in vitro in human lymphocytes. Rats and mice treated with dofetilide in the diet for two years showed no evidence of an increased incidence of tumors compared to controls. The highest dofetilide dose administered for 24 months was 10 mg/kg/day to rats and 20 mg/kg/day to mice. Mean dofetilide AUCs(0–24hr) at these doses were about 26 and 10 times, respectively, the maximum likely human AUC.

There was no effect on mating or fertility when dofetilide was administered to male and female rats at doses as high as 1.0 mg/kg/day, a dose that would be expected to provide a mean dofetilide AUC(0–24hr) about 3 times the maximum likely human AUC. Increased incidences of testicular atrophy and epididymal oligospermia and a reduction in testicular weight were, however, observed in other studies in rats. Reduced testicular weight and increased incidence of testicular atrophy were also consistent findings in dogs and mice. The no effect doses for these findings in chronic administration studies in these 3 species (3, 0.1, and 6 mg/kg/day) were associated with mean dofetilide AUCs that were about 4, 1.3, and 3 times the maximum likely human AUC, respectively.

Pregnancy Category C

Dofetilide has been shown to adversely affect in utero growth and survival of rats and mice when orally administered during organogenesis at doses of 2 or more mg/kg/day. Other than an increased incidence of non-ossified 5th metacarpal, and the occurrence of hydroureter and hydronephroses at doses as low as 1 mg/kg/day in the rat, structural anomalies associated with drug treatment were not observed in either species at doses below 2 mg/kg/day. The clearest drug-effect associations were for sternebral and vertebral anomalies in both species; cleft palate, adactyly, levocardia, dilation of cerebral ventricles, hydroureter, hydronephroses, and unossified metacarpal in the rat; and increased incidence of unossified calcaneum in the mouse. The “no observed adverse effect dose” in both species was 0.5 mg/kg/day. The mean dofetilide AUCs(0–24hr) at this dose in the rat and mouse are estimated to be about equal to the maximum likely human AUC and about half the likely human AUC, respectively. There are no adequate and well controlled studies in pregnant women. Therefore, dofetilide should only be administered to pregnant women where the benefit to the patient justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Nursing Mothers

There is no information on the presence of dofetilide in breast milk. Patients should be advised not to breast-feed an infant if they are taking TIKOSYN.

Geriatric Use

Of the total number of patients in clinical studies of TIKOSYN, 46% were 65 to 89 years old. No overall differences in safety, effect on QTc, or effectiveness were observed between elderly and younger patients. Because elderly patients are more likely to have decreased renal function with a reduced creatinine clearance, care must be taken in dose selection (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

Use In Women

Female patients constituted 32% of the patients in the placebo-controlled trials of TIKOSYN. As with other drugs that cause Torsade de Pointes, TIKOSYN was associated with a greater risk of Torsade de Pointes in female patients than in male patients. During the TIKOSYN clinical development program, the risk of Torsade de Pointes in females was approximately 3 times the risk in males. Unlike Torsade de Pointes, the incidence of other ventricular arrhythmias was similar in female patients receiving TIKOSYN and patients receiving placebo. Although no study specifically investigated this risk, in post-hoc analyses, no increased mortality was observed in females on TIKOSYN compared to females on placebo.

Pediatric Use

The safety and effectiveness of TIKOSYN in children ( < 18 years old) has not been established.

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

Last reviewed on RxList: 3/25/2016


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