VERAPAMIL HYDROCHLORIDE SHOULD BE GIVEN AS A SLOW INTRAVENOUS INJECTION OVER AT LEAST A TWO-MINUTE PERIOD OF TIME (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).
Hypotension: Verapamil hydrochloride injection often produces a decrease in blood pressure below baseline levels that is usually transient and asymptomatic but may result in dizziness. Systolic pressure less than 90 mm Hg and/or diastolic pressure less than 60 mm Hg was seen in 5% to 10% of patients in controlled U.S. trials in supraventricular tachycardia and in about 10% of the patients with atrial flutter/fibrillation. The incidence of symptomatic hypotension observed in studies conducted in the U.S. was approximately 1.5%. Three of the five symptomatic patients required intravenous pharmacologic treatment (norepinephrine bitartrate, metaraminol bitartrate, or 10% calcium gluconate). All recovered without sequelae.
Extreme Bradycardia/Asystole: Verapamil hydrochloride affects the AV and SA nodes and rarely may produce second- or third-degree AV block, bradycardia, and, in extreme cases, asystole. This is more likely to occur in patients with a sick sinus syndrome (SA nodal disease), which is more common in older patients. Bradycardia associated with sick sinus syndrome was reported in 0.3% of the patients treated in controlled double-blind trials in the U.S. The total incidence of bradycardia (ventricular rate less than 60 beats/min) was 1.2% in these studies. Asystole in patients other than those with sick sinus syndrome is usually of short duration (few seconds or less), with spontaneous return to AV nodal or normal sinus rhythm. If this does not occur promptly, appropriate treatment should be initiated immediately. (See ADVERSE REACTIONS and Suggested Treatment of Acute Cardiovascular Adverse Reactions.)
Heart Failure: When heart failure is not severe or rate related, it should be controlled with digitalis glycosides and diuretics, as appropriate, before verapamil is used. In patients with moderately severe to severe cardiac dysfunction (pulmonary wedge pressure above 20 mm Hg, ejection fraction less than 30%), acute worsening of heart failure may be seen.
Concomitant Antiarrhythmic Therapy:
Digitalis: Verapamil hydrochloride injection has been used concomitantly with digitalis preparations without the occurrence of serious adverse effects. However, since both drugs slow AV conduction, patients should be monitored for AV block or excessive bradycardia.
Procainamide: Verapamil hydrochloride injection has been administered to a small number of patients receiving oral procainamide without the occurrence of serious adverse effects.
Quinidine: Verapamil hydrochloride injection has been administered to a small number of patients receiving oral quinidine without the occurrence of serious adverse effects. However, three patients have been described in whom the combination resulted in an exaggerated hypotensive response presumably from the combined ability of both drugs to antagonize the effects of catecholamines on α-adrenergic receptors. Caution should therefore be used when employing this combination of drugs.
Beta-Adrenergic Blocking Drugs: Verapamil hydrochloride injection has been administered to patients receiving oral beta-blockers without the development of serious adverse effects. However, since both drugs may depress myocardial contractility and AV conduction, the possibility of detrimental interactions should be considered. The concomitant administration of intravenous beta-blockers and intravenous verapamil has resulted in serious adverse reactions (see CONTRAINDICATIONS), especially in patients with severe cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, or recent myocardial infarction.
Disopyramide: Until data on possible interactions between verapamil and all forms of disopyramide phosphate are obtained, disopyramide should not be administered within 48 hours before or 24 hours after verapamil administration.
Flecainide: A study in healthy volunteers showed that the concomitant administration of flecainide and verapamil may have additive effects reducing myocardial contractility, prolonging AV conduction, and prolonging repolarization.
Heart Block: Verapamil prolongs AV conduction time. While high-degree AV block has not been observed in controlled clinical trials in the United States, a low percentage (less than 0.5%) has been reported in the world literature. Development of second- or third-degree AV block or unifascicular, bifascicular, or trifascicular bundle branch block requires reduction in subsequent doses or discontinuation of verapamil and institution of appropriate therapy, if needed. (See ADVERSE REACTIONS, Suggested Treatment of Acute Cardiovascular Adverse Reactions.)
Hepatic and Renal Failure: Significant hepatic and renal failure should not increase the effects of a single intravenous dose of verapamil hydrochloride but may prolong its duration. Repeated injections of verapamil hydrochloride injection in such patients may lead to accumulation and an excessive pharmacologic effect of the drug. There is no experience to guide use of multiple doses in such patients, and this generally should be avoided. If repeated injections are essential, blood pressure and PR interval should be closely monitored and smaller repeat doses should be utilized.
Verapamil cannot be removed by hemodialysis.
Premature Ventricular Contractions: During conversion to normal sinus rhythm, or marked reduction in ventricular rate, a few benign complexes of unusual appearance (sometimes resembling premature ventricular contractions) may be seen after treatment with verapamil hydrochloride. Similar complexes are seen during spontaneous conversion of supraventricular tachycardias, after D.C.-cardioversion and other pharmacologic therapy. These complexes appear to have no clinical significance.
Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy: Verapamil hydrochloride injection can precipitate respiratory muscle failure in these patients and should, therefore, be used with caution.
Increased Intracranial Pressure: Verapamil hydrochloride injection has been seen to increase intracranial pressure in patients with supratentorial tumors at the time of anesthesia induction. Caution should be taken and appropriate monitoring performed.
(See WARNINGS: Concomitant Antiarrhythmic Therapy.) Verapamil hydrochloride injection has been used concomitantly with other cardioactive drugs (especially digitalis) without evidence of serious negative drug interactions. In rare instances, including when patients with severe cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, or recent myocardial infarction were given intravenous beta-adrenergic blocking agents or disopyramide concomitantly with intravenous verapamil, serious adverse effects have occurred. Concomitant use of verapamil hydrochloride with β-adrenergic blockers may result in an exaggerated hypotensive response. Such an effect was observed in one study, following the concomitant administration of verapamil and prazosin. It may be necessary to decrease the dose of verapamil and/or dose of the neuromuscular blocking agent when the drugs are used concomitantly. As verapamil is highly bound to plasma proteins, it should be administered with caution to patients receiving other highly protein-bound drugs.
Cimetidine: The interaction between cimetidine and chronically administered verapamil has not been studied. In acute studies of healthy volunteers, clearance of verapamil was either reduced or unchanged.
Lithium: Increased sensitivity to the effects of lithium (neurotoxicity) has been reported during concomitant verapamil-lithium therapy with either no change or an increase in serum lithium levels. The addition of verapamil, however, has also resulted in the lowering of serum lithium levels in patients receiving chronic stable oral lithium. Patients receiving both drugs must be monitored carefully.
Carbamazepine: Verapamil therapy may increase carbamazepine concentrations during combined therapy. This may produce carbamazepine side effects such as diplopia, headache, ataxia, or dizziness.
Rifampin: Therapy with rifampin may markedly reduce oral verapamil bioavailability.
Phenobarbital: Phenobarbital therapy may increase verapamil clearance.
Cyclosporin: Verapamil therapy may increase serum levels of cyclosporin.
Inhalation Anesthetics: Animal experiments have shown that inhalation anesthetics depress cardiovascular activity by decreasing the inward movement of calcium ions. When used concomitantly, inhalation anesthetics and calcium antagonists (such as verapamil) should be titrated carefully to avoid excessive cardiovascular depression.
Neuromuscular Blocking Agents: Clinical data and animal studies suggest that verapamil may potentiate the activity of depolarizing and nondepolarizing neuromuscular blocking agents. It may be necessary to decrease the dose of verapamil and/or the dose of the neuromuscular blocking agent when the drugs are used concomitantly.
Dantrolene: Two animal studies suggest concomitant intravenous use of verapamil and dantrolene sodium may result in cardiovascular collapse. There has been one report of hyperkalemia and myocardial depression following the coadministration of oral verapamil and intravenous dantrolene.
Ivabradine: Concurrent use of verapamil increases exposure to ivabradine and may exacerbate bradycardia and conduction disturbances. Avoid coadministration of verapamil and ivabradine.
Teratogenic Effects: Reproduction studies have been performed in rabbits and rats at oral verapamil doses up to 1.5 (15 mg/kg/day) and 6 (60 mg/kg/day) times the human oral daily dose, respectively, and have revealed no evidence of teratogenicity. In the rat, this multiple of the human dose was embryocidal and retarded fetal growth and development, probably because of adverse maternal effects reflected in reduced weight gains of the dams. This oral dose has also been shown to cause hypotension in rats. There are, however, no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Because animal reproduction studies are not always predictive of human response, this drug should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed.
Labor and Delivery:
There have been few controlled studies to determine whether the use of verapamil during labor or delivery has immediate or delayed adverse effects on the fetus, or whether it prolongs the duration of labor or increases the need for forceps delivery or other obstetric intervention. Such adverse experiences have not been reported in the literature, despite a long history of use of verapamil hydrochloride injection in Europe in the treatment of cardiac side effects of beta-adrenergic agonist agents used to treat premature labor.
Verapamil crosses the placental barrier and can be detected in umbilical vein blood at delivery. Also, verapamil is excreted in human milk. Because of the potential for adverse reactions in nursing infants from verapamil, nursing should be discontinued while verapamil is administered.
Controlled studies with verapamil have not been conducted in pediatric patients, but uncontrolled experience with intravenous administration in more than 250 patients, about half under 12 months of age and about 25% newborn, indicates that results of treatment are similar to those in adults. In rare instances, however, severe hemodynamic side effects − some of them fatal − have occurred following the intravenous administration of verapamil to neonates and infants. Caution should therefore be used when administering verapamil to this group of pediatric patients. The most commonly used single doses in patients up to 12 months of age have ranged from 0.1 to 0.2 mg/kg of body weight, while in patients aged 1 to 15 years, the most commonly used single doses ranged from 0.1 to 0.3 mg/kg of body weight. Most of the patients received the lower dose of 0.1 mg/kg once, but in some cases, the dose was repeated once or twice every 10 to 30 minutes.