Drug-induced Proarrhythmia and Torsade de Pointes: A Primer for Students and Practitioners of Medicine and Pharmacy. Academic Article Review uri icon


  • Multiple marketing withdrawals due to proarrhythmic concerns occurred in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom in the late 1980s to early 2000s. This primer reviews the clinical implications of a drug's identified proarrhythmic liability, the issues associated with these safety-related withdrawals, and the actions taken by the International Council for Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH) and by regulatory agencies in terms of changing drug development practices and introducing new nonclinical and clinical tests to asses proarrhythmic liability. ICH Guidelines S7B and E14 were released in 2005. Since then, they have been adopted by many regional regulatory authorities and have guided nonclinical and clinical proarrhythmic cardiac safety assessments during drug development. While this regulatory paradigm has been successful in preventing drugs with unanticipated potential for inducing the rare but potentially fatal polymorphic ventricular arrhythmia torsade de pointes from entering the market, it has led to the termination of drug development programs for other potentially useful medicines because of isolated results from studies with limited predictive value. Research efforts are now exploring alternative approaches to better predict potential proarrhythmic liabilities. For example, in the domain of human electrocardiographic assessments, concentration-response modeling conducted during phase 1 clinical development has recently become an accepted alternate primary methodology to the ICH E14 "thorough QT/QTc" study for defining a drug's corrected QT interval prolongation liability under certain conditions. When a drug's therapeutic benefit is considered important at a public health level but there is also an identified proarrhythmic liability that may result from administration of the single drug in certain individuals and/or drug-drug interactions, marketing approval will be accompanied by appropriate directions in the drug's prescribing information. Health-care professionals in the fields of medicine and pharmacy need to consider the prescribing information in conjunction with individual patients' clinical characteristics and concomitant medications when prescribing and dispensing such drugs.© 2018, The American College of Clinical Pharmacology.

publication date

  • April 2018