Amiodarone injection 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. Liver Enzyme Elevations Elevations of blood hepatic enzyme values-alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT)-are seen commonly in patients with immediately lifethreatening 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. Acute, centrolobular confluent hepatocellular necrosis leading to hepatic coma, acute renal failure, and death has been associated with the administration of intravenous amiodarone at a much higher loading dose concentration and much faster rate of infusion than recommended in DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION. Therefore, the initial concentration and rate of infusion should be monitored closely and should not exceed that prescribed in DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION). In patients with life-threatening arrhythmias, the potential risk of hepatic injury should be weighed against the potential benefit of intravenous amiodarone therapy, but patients receiving intravenous amiodarone should be monitored carefully for evidence of progressive hepatic injury. Consideration should be given to reducing the rate of administration or withdrawing intravenous amiodarone in such cases. Proarrhythmia Like all antiarrhythmic agents, intravenous amiodarone may cause a worsening of existing arrhythmias or precipitate a new arrhythmia. Proarrhythmia, primarily torsades 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, torsades de pointes or new-onset VF occurred infrequently (less than 2%). Patients should be monitored for QTc prolongation during infusion with intravenous amiodarone. Combination of amiodarone with other antiarrhythmic therapy that prolongs the QTc should be reserved for patients with life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias who are incompletely responsive to a single agent. Fluoroquinolones, macrolide antibiotics, and azoles are known to cause QTc prolongation. There have been reports of QTc prolongation, with or without TdP, in patients taking amiodarone when fluoroquinolones, macrolide antibiotics, or azoles were administered concomitantly. (see DRUG INTERACTIONS, Other reported interactions with amiodarone). The need to coadminister amiodarone with any other drug known to prolong the QTc interval must be based on a careful assessment of the potential risks and benefits of doing so for each patient. A careful assessment of the potential risks and benefits of administering intravenous amiodarone must be made in patients with thyroid dysfunction due to the possibility of arrhythmia breakthrough or exacerbation of arrhythmia, which may result in death, in these patients. Pulmonary Disorders 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 on X-ray, bronchospasm, wheezing, fever, dyspnea, cough, hemoptysis, and hypoxia. Some cases have progressed to respiratory failure and/or death. ARDS Two percent (2%) of patients were reported to have adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) during clinical studies involving 48 hours of therapy. ARDS is a disorder characterized by bilateral, diffuse pulmonary infiltrates with pulmonary edema and varying degrees of respiratory insufficiency. The clinical and radiographic picture can arise after a variety of lung injuries, such as those resulting from trauma, shock, prolonged cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and aspiration pneumonia, conditions present in many of the patients enrolled in the clinical studies. There have been postmarketing reports of ARDS in intravenous amiodarone patients. Intravenous amiodarone may play a role in causing or exacerbating pulmonary disorders in those patients. Postoperatively, occurrences of ARDS have been reported in patients receiving oralamiodarone therapy who have undergone either cardiac or noncardiac surgery. Although patients usually respond well to vigorous respiratory therapy, in rare instances the outcome has been fatal. Until further studies have been performed, it is recommended that FiO2 and the determinants of oxygen delivery to the tissues (e.g., SaO2, PaO2) be closely monitored in patients on amiodarone. Pulmonary fibrosis 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 she received oral amiodarone. Pulmonary toxicity is a well-recognized complication of long-term amiodarone use (see labeling for oral amiodarone). Surgery Close perioperative monitoring is recommended 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. Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility No carcinogenicity studies were conducted with intravenous amiodarone. However, oral amiodarone caused a statistically significant, dose-related increase in the incidence of thyroid tumors (follicular adenoma and/or 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 (approximately 0.08 times the maximum recommended human maintenance dose*). Mutagenicity studies conducted with amiodarone HCl (Ames, micronucleus, and lysogenic induction tests) were negative. No fertility studies were conducted with intravenous 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*). Pregnancy Category D. See WARNINGS, Neonatal Hypo- or Hyperthyroidism. In addition to causing infrequent congenital goiter/hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, amiodarone has caused a variety of adverse effects in animals. In a reproductive study in which 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 the maximum recommended human dose [MRHD] on a body surface area basis), maternal deaths occurred in all groups, including controls. Embryotoxicity (as manifested by fewer full-term fetuses and increased resorptions with concomitantly lower litter weights) occurred at dosages of 10 mg/kg and above. No evidence of embryotoxicity was observed at 5 mg/kg and no teratogenicity was observed at any dosages. In a teratology study in which amiodarone was administered by continuous i.v. infusion to rats at dosages of 25, 50, or 100 mg/kg per day (about 0.4, 0.7, and 1.4 times the MRHD when compared on a body surface area basis), maternal toxicity (as evidenced by reduced weight gain and food consumption) and embryotoxicity (as evidenced by increased resorptions, decreased live litter size, reduced body weights, and retarded sternum and metacarpal ossification) were observed in the 100 mg/kg group. Intravenous amiodarone should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit to the mother justifies the risk to the fetus. Nursing Mothers 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 reduced body weight gains. The risk of exposing the infant to amiodarone should be weighed against the potential benefit of arrhythmia suppression in the mother. The mother should be advised to discontinue nursing. 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. Pediatric Use The safety and efficacy of amiodarone in the pediatric population have not been established; therefore, its use in pediatric patients is not recommended. In a pediatric trial of 61 patients, aged 30 days to 15 years, hypotension (36%), bradycardia (20%), and atrio-ventricular block (15%) were common dose-related adverse events and were severe or life-threatening in some cases. Injection site reactions were seen in 5 (25%) of the 20 patients receiving amiodarone HCI injection through a peripheral vein irrespective of dose regimen. Amiodarone HCl injection contains the preservative benzyl alcohol (see DESCRIPTION). There have been reports of fatal “gasping syndrome” in neonates (children less than one month of age) following the administration of intravenous solutions containing the preservative benzyl alcohol. Symptoms include a striking onset of gasping respiration, hypotension, bradycardia, and cardiovascular collapse. Geriatric Use Clinical studies of intravenous 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. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy. *600 mg in a 50 kg patient (dose compared on a body surface area basis) Last reviewed on RxList: 11/18/2008
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.