Multaq Linked To Increased Risk of Injury In Heart Patients: Study

Individuals given the antiarrhythmic drug Multaq may be more likely to end up in the hospital than those who take a different heart drug, according to the findings of a new study. 

A recent review of insurance claim data on drugs used to treat heart rhythm problems, known as antiarrhythmic drugs (AADs) found that Multaq had the highest rate of hospitalizations due to atrial fibrillation, while Cordarone and Pacerone were the safest in that regard. The findings were published online on March 31 in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Researchers from Duke University looked at claims data for patients with atrial fibrillation without coronary artery disease or heart failure who took an AAD within two weeks of their first atrial fibrillation incident. In addition to Multaq, Cordarone and Pacerone, they also looked at Betapace. Tambocor, and Rhythmol.

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Multaq (dronedarone) was linked to a higher hospitalization rate than all of the other drugs, with the greatest difference being between Multaq and Cordarone and Pacerone, both of which have the active ingredient amiodarone. Multaq led to nearly triple the risk of hospitalization when compared to amiodarone-based drugs. Even compared to the other heart drugs, the Multaq hospitalization rate ranged from 60% to more than 70% higher.

“Amiodarone had the lowest risk of AF hospitalization and dronedatone had the greatest risk,” the researchers concluded. “Additional research is needed to better understand associations between AADs and hospitalization risk.”

Multaq was approved in July 2009 for the treatment of patients who have had abnormal heart rhythms in the last six months. Over the past several years, the side effects of Multaq have been linked to a possible risk of liver failure, liver damage, heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and death.

In January 2011, the FDA required new warnings about the potential risk of liver failure or liver injury from Multaq, indicating that at least two patients on Multaq suffered acute liver failure that required them to get a liver transplant.

In December 2011, the FDA issued another Multaq safety warning, advising that the drug should not be used in patients whose abnormal heart rhythms were permanent. It also required the manufacturer, Merck & Co., to add additional safety warnings and contraindications to the label.


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