New antiarrhythmic agents for atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter: United States drug market response as an indicator of acceptance.
OBJECTIVE: To determine how well dofetilide and Betapace AF (sotalol, approved solely for atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter), with their detailed dosing and monitoring guidelines for safety, were accepted into clinical practice during the 2 calendar years after their introduction. METHODS AND RESULTS: We reviewed the number of new, refill, and total prescriptions of all antiarrhythmic agents in the United States from April 2000-December 2001 to assess use of dofetilide and Betapace AF in the drug market. Both were prescribed very infrequently throughout the study period. In addition, the infrequent reported use of these drugs for patients with atrial fibrillation and flutter indicated poor acceptance of these agents by prescribing physicians. We speculated that the restricted distribution and required educational program for dofetilide, as well as the availability of generic sotalol products, may have discouraged physicians from prescribing both dofetilide and Betapace AE CONCLUSION: A common goal for both the dofetilide risk-management program and the creation of a sotalol product indicated solely for atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter was to provide safer treatment for patients with these arrhythmias. Unfortunately, limited penetration of dofetilide and Betapace AF into the U.S. market suggests that drugs without a risk-management program or detailed dosing guidelines were more likely than dofetilide or Betapace AF to be selected for treatment of atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter.
LaPointe, NMA; Pamer, CA; Kramer, JM
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