Sotalol Hydrochloride (Page 2 of 6)


In healthy subjects, the oral bioavailability of sotalol hydrochloride is 90 to 100%. After oral administration, peak plasma concentrations are reached in 2.5 to 4 hours, and steady-state plasma concentrations are attained within 2 to 3 days (i.e., after 5 to 6 doses when administered twice daily). Over the dosage range 160 to 640 mg/day sotalol hydrochloride displays dose proportionality with respect to plasma concentrations. Distribution occurs to a central (plasma) and to a peripheral compartment, with a mean elimination half-life of 12 hours. Dosing every 12 hours results in trough plasma concentrations which are approximately one-half of those at peak.

Sotalol hydrochloride does not bind to plasma proteins and is not metabolized. Sotalol hydrochloride shows very little intersubject variability in plasma levels. The pharmacokinetics of the d and l enantiomers of sotalol are essentially identical. Sotalol hydrochloride crosses the blood brain barrier poorly. Excretion is predominantly via the kidney in the unchanged form, and therefore lower doses are necessary in conditions of renal impairment (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION). Age per se does not significantly alter the pharmacokinetics of sotalol hydrochloride, but impaired renal function in geriatric patients can increase the terminal elimination half-life, resulting in increased drug accumulation. The absorption of sotalol hydrochloride was reduced by approximately 20% compared to fasting when it was administered with a standard meal. Since sotalol hydrochloride is not subject to first-pass metabolism, patients with hepatic impairment show no alteration in clearance of sotalol.

Pediatric pharmacokinetic information is approved for Berlex Laboratories’ sotalol hydrochloride tablets. However, due to Berlex’s marketing exclusivity rights, this drug product is not labeled for pediatric use.


Sotalol hydrochloride tablets, USP are indicated for the treatment of documented ventricular arrhythmias, such as sustained ventricular tachycardia, that in the judgment of the physician are life-threatening. Because of the proarrhythmic effects of sotalol hydrochloride tablets, USP (see WARNINGS), including a 1.5 to 2% rate of Torsade de Pointes or new VT/VF in patients with either NSVT or supraventricular arrhythmias, its use in patients with less severe arrhythmias, even if the patients are symptomatic, is generally not recommended. Treatment of patients with asymptomatic ventricular premature contractions should be avoided.

Initiation of sotalol hydrochloride treatment or increasing doses, as with other antiarrhythmic agents used to treat life-threatening arrhythmias, should be carried out in the hospital. The response to treatment should then be evaluated by a suitable method (e.g., PES or Holter monitoring) prior to continuing the patient on chronic therapy. Various approaches have been used to determine the response to antiarrhythmic therapy, including sotalol hydrochloride tablets, USP.

In the ESVEM Trial, response by Holter monitoring was tentatively defined as 100% suppression of ventricular tachycardia, 90% suppression of non-sustained VT, 80% suppression of paired VPCs, and 75% suppression of total VPCs in patients who had at least 10 VPCs/hour at baseline; this tentative response was confirmed if VT lasting 5 or more beats was not observed during treadmill exercise testing using a standard Bruce protocol. The PES protocol utilized a maximum of three extrastimuli at three pacing cycle lengths and two right ventricular pacing sites. Response by PES was defined as prevention of induction of the following: 1) monomorphic VT lasting over 15 seconds; 2) non-sustained polymorphic VT containing more than 15 beats of monomorphic VT in patients with a history of monomorphic VT; 3) polymorphic VT or VF greater than 15 beats in patients with VF or a history of aborted sudden death without monomorphic VT; and 4) two episodes of polymorphic VT or VF of greater than 15 beats in a patient presenting with monomorphic VT. Sustained VT or NSVT producing hypotension during the final treadmill test was considered a drug failure.

In a multicenter open-label long-term study of sotalol in patients with life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias which had proven refractory to other antiarrhythmic medications, response by Holter monitoring was defined as in ESVEM. Response by PES was defined as non-inducibility of sustained VT by at least double extrastimuli delivered at a pacing cycle length of 400 msec. Overall survival and arrhythmia recurrence rates in this study were similar to those seen in ESVEM, although there was no comparative group to allow a definitive assessment of outcome.

Antiarrhythmic drugs have not been shown to enhance survival in patients with ventricular arrhythmias.

Sotalol is also indicated for the maintenance of normal sinus rhythm [delay in time to recurrence of atrial fibrillation/atrial flutter (AFIB/AFL)] in patients with symptomatic AFIB/AFL who are currently in sinus rhythm and is marketed under the brand name Betapace AF. Sotalol hydrochloride tablets, USP are not approved for the AFIB/AFL indication and should not be substituted for Betapace AF because only Betapace AF is distributed with a patient package insert that is appropriate for patients with AFIB/AFL.


Sotalol hydrochloride is contraindicated in patients with bronchial asthma, sinus bradycardia, second and third degree AV block, unless a functioning pacemaker is present, congenital or acquired long QT syndromes, cardiogenic shock, uncontrolled congestive heart failure, and previous evidence of hypersensitivity to sotalol.



The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial I (CAST I) was a long-term, multi-center, double-blind study in patients with asymptomatic, non-life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias, 1 to 103 weeks after acute myocardial infarction. Patients in CAST I were randomized to receive placebo or individually optimized doses of encainide, flecainide, or moricizine. The Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial II (CAST II) was similar, except that the recruited patients had had their index infarction 4 to 90 days before randomization, patients with left ventricular ejection fractions greater than 40% were not admitted, and the randomized regimens were limited to placebo and moricizine.

CAST I was discontinued after an average time-on-treatment of 10 months, and CAST II was discontinued after an average time-on-treatment of 18 months. As compared to placebo treatment, all three active therapies were associated with increases in short-term (14-day) mortality, and encainide and flecainide were associated with significant increases in longer-term mortality as well. The longer-term mortality rate associated with moricizine treatment could not be statistically distinguished from that associated with placebo.

The applicability of these results to other populations (e.g., those without recent myocardial infarction) and to other than Class I antiarrhythmic agents is uncertain. Sotalol hydrochloride is devoid of Class I effects, and in a large (n=1,456) controlled trial in patients with a recent myocardial infarction, who did not necessarily have ventricular arrhythmias, sotalol did not produce increased mortality at doses up to 320 mg/day (see Clinical Studies). On the other hand, in the large post-infarction study using a non-titrated initial dose of 320 mg once daily and in a second small randomized trial in high-risk post-infarction patients treated with high doses (320 mg BID), there have been suggestions of an excess of early sudden deaths.


Like other antiarrhythmic agents, sotalol can provoke new or worsened ventricular arrhythmias in some patients, including sustained ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation, with potentially fatal consequences. Because of its effect on cardiac repolarization (QTc interval prolongation), Torsade de Pointes, a polymorphic ventricular tachycardia with prolongation of the QT interval and a shifting electrical axis is the most common form of proarrhythmia associated with sotalol, occurring in about 4% of high risk (history of sustained VT/VF) patients. The risk of Torsade de Pointes progressively increases with prolongation of the QT interval, and is worsened also by reduction in heart rate and reduction in serum potassium (see Electrolyte Disturbances).

Because of the variable temporal recurrence of arrhythmias, it is not always possible to distinguish between a new or aggravated arrhythmic event and the patient’s underlying rhythm disorder. (Note, however, that Torsade de Pointes is usually a drug-induced arrhythmia in people with an initially normal QTc). Thus, the incidence of drug-related events cannot be precisely determined, so that the occurrence rates provided must be considered approximations. Note also that drug-induced arrhythmias may often not be identified, particularly if they occur long after starting the drug, due to less frequent monitoring. It is clear from the NIH-sponsored CAST (see WARNINGS, Mortality) that some antiarrhythmic drugs can cause increased sudden death mortality, presumably due to new arrhythmias or asystole, that do not appear early in treatment but that represent a sustained increased risk.

Overall in clinical trials with sotalol, 4.3% of 3257 patients experienced a new or worsened ventricular arrhythmia. Of this 4.3%, there was new or worsened sustained ventricular tachycardia in approximately 1% of patients and Torsade de Pointes in 2.4%. Additionally, in approximately 1% of patients, deaths were considered possibly drug-related; such cases, although difficult to evaluate, may have been associated with proarrhythmic events. In patients with a history of sustained ventricular tachycardia, the incidence of Torsade de Pointes was 4% and worsened VT in about 1%; in patients with other, less serious, ventricular arrhythmias and supraventricular arrhythmias, the incidence of Torsade de Pointes was 1% and 1.4%, respectively.

Torsade de Pointes arrhythmias were dose related, as is the prolongation of QT (QTc) interval, as shown in the table below.

Percent Incidence of Torsade de Pointes and Mean QTc Interval by Dose For Patients With Sustained VT/VF
a) highest on-therapy value

b) Number of patients assessed

Daily Dose (mg) Incidence of Torsade de Pointes Mean QTca (msec)
80 0 (69)b 463 (17)
160 0.5 (832) 467 (181)
320 1.6 (835) 473 (344)
480 4.4 (459) 483 (234)
640 3.7 (324) 490 (185)
> 640 5.8 (103) 512 (62)

In addition to dose and presence of sustained VT, other risk factors for Torsade de Pointes were gender (females had a higher incidence), excessive prolongation of the QTc interval (see table below) and history of cardiomegaly or congestive heart failure. Patients with sustained ventricular tachycardia and a history of congestive heart failure appear to have the highest risk for serious proarrhythmia (7%). Of the patients experiencing Torsade de Pointes, approximately two-thirds spontaneously reverted to their baseline rhythm. The others were either converted electrically (D/C cardioversion or overdrive pacing) or treated with other drugs (see OVERDOSAGE). It is not possible to determine whether some sudden deaths represented episodes of Torsade de Pointes but in some instances sudden death did follow a documented episode of Torsade de Pointes. Although sotalol therapy was discontinued in most patients experiencing Torsade de Pointes, 17% were continued on a lower dose.

Nonetheless, sotalol should be used with particular caution if the QTc is greater than 500 msec on-therapy and serious consideration should be given to reducing the dose or discontinuing therapy when the QTc exceeds 550 msec. Due to the multiple risk-factors associated with Torsade de Pointes, however, caution should be exercised regardless of the QTC interval. The table below relates the incidence of Torsade de Pointes to on-therapy QTc and change in QTc from baseline. It should be noted, however, that the highest on-therapy QTc was in many cases the one obtained at the time of the Torsade de Pointes event, so that the table overstates the predictive value of a high QTc.

Relationship Between QTc Interval Prolongation and Torsade de Pointes

( ) Number of patients assessed

On-Therapy QTc Interval (msec) Incidence of Torsade de Pointes Change in QTc Interval From Baseline (msec) Incidence of Torsade de Pointes
< 500 1.3% (1787) < 65 1.6% (1516)
500-525 3.4% (236) 65-80 3.2% (158)
525-550 5.6% (125) 80-100 4.1% (146)
> 550 10.8% (157) 100-130 5.2% (115)
> 130 7.1% (99)

Proarrhythmic events must be anticipated not only on initiating therapy, but with every upward dose adjustment. Proarrhythmic events most often occur within 7 days of initiating therapy or of an increase in dose; 75% of serious proarrhythmias (Torsade de Pointes and worsened VT) occurred within 7 days of initiating sotalol therapy, while 60% of such events occurred within 3 days of initiation or a dosage change. Initiating therapy at 80 mg BID with gradual upward dose titration and appropriate evaluations for efficacy (e.g., PES or Holter) and safety (e.g., QT interval, heart rate and electrolytes) prior to dose escalation, should reduce the risk of proarrhythmia. Avoiding excessive accumulation of sotalol in patients with diminished renal function, by appropriate dose reduction, should also reduce the risk of proarrhythmia (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

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