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Amiodarone, Pacerone & Cordarone Lawsuit Information
Table of Contents
Amiodarone Linked to Severe Side-effects
Amiodarone is the generic name for a powerful anti-arrhythmic drug marketed under the brand names Cordarone, Pacerone, and Nexterone. This drug is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs of its type in the U.S. because of how effectively it manages ventricular and supraventricular arrhythmias.
Unfortunately, despite being routinely used to treat these serious heart arrhythmias, Amiodarone has been associated with severe and potentially fatal side effects, including pulmonary toxicity, severe liver damage, thyroid damage, blindness, worsening arrhythmias or the development of new arrhythmias, and death.
If you or a family member has suffered one of these serious side effects, this guide will help you learn more about Amiodarone and explore the options that may be available to you.
Important Warning Video
What is Amiodarone?
The drug is administered by pill or IV and is also used in patients undergoing some heart surgeries such as coronary revascularization or valve replacement. Though not an approved FDA use, amiodarone is also used to regulate sinus rhythm and slow how the bottom chambers of the heart respond to flutters and fibrillations in the top chamber of the heart.
The drug is used –
- To treat arrhythmias such as ventricular tachycardia and fibrillation.
- As a precautionary measure for patients undergoing thoracic surgery, including surgeries for valve replacement, and coronary revascularization.
- To treat atrial arrhythmias by slowing down the ventricular response to atrial flutter and fibrillation during rest and exercise.
- To convert and maintain sinus rhythm in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation
How It Works
Amiodarone works by preventing potassium from leaving the cells of the heart muscle. This allows the heart tissue to resist electrical signals that are trying to tell the heart to beat before it should.
Unlike other heart drugs which have a half-life that is typically measured in hours, Amiodarone stays in the body for an extended period. In fact, the elimination half-life of the medication is approximately two months. Because it stays in your system for so long, you can have a reaction to the drug several months after you stop taking it, it is important that you track how long you were on Amiodarone and the number of days since you discontinued use so you can report these timetables to your physician if you begin to develop side-effects.
Pulmonary toxicity is a potentially fatal side effect of Amiodarone that damages the lungs and inhibits your ability to get oxygen. Amiodarone Pulmonary Toxicity (APT) can cause fluid to develop in the lungs or between the lung and chest wall. This fluid reduces how much air you can breathe in and how well the lungs oxygenate the blood stream.
APT can affect those with pre-existing lung conditions, and men and women who have no history of lung problems. It strikes men more than women, though the devastating effects of APT are the same for both sexes.
Researchers have found that APT is more commonly seen in patients who are on higher doses, though it can and does strike patients on doses as low as 200 mg per day.
Contact your physician immediately if you begin to experience the symptoms of APT including:
- Chest pain that is aggravated by breathing
- Coughing up blood
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
- Unexplained weight loss
Because it takes a long time for the drug to leave the system, if you develop APT, your physician will discontinue Amiodarone and begin a corticosteroid therapy that you will continue as the drug gradually leaves your system. Be aware that the prognosis for those who receive early treatment for Amiodarone Pulmonary Toxicity is very good, though the mortality significantly increases if respiratory distress develops.
Liver Damage and Cirrhosis
Amiodarone may also cause you to develop liver damage, pseudo-alcoholic cirrhosis, and liver failure. Amiodarone is fat soluble and stores in the liver and can continue to cause damage to the organ for months after the medication is discontinued.
As the drug and its metabolites accumulate in the liver, they inhibit normal function and cause inflammation. As the tissues of the liver become ever more damaged, scarring and necrosis occur. This is known as Amiodarone-Induced Cirrhosis (AIC).
AIC, like cirrhosis, causes irreversible liver damage, and as the organ loses functionality, other organs and processes in the body falter. In fact, AIC can lead to acute liver failure, increased pressure on the brain, excessive bleeding, a build of up toxins in the body, renal failure, and death. Often, a liver transplant is the only cure.
Unfortunately, there may be no early warning symptoms of AIC, however, as the disease progresses you may experience:
- Bloody stools
- Changes in your disposition or personality
- Dark urine
- Itchy skin
- Loss of appetite and nausea
- Pain in the upper right part of your abdomen
- Severe fatigue
- Swelling of your abdomen, ankles, and legs as fluid builds up in your body
- Yellowing of the white of your eyes
- Yellowing of your skin
Eye Damage and Blindness
Research has shown that the drug can cause optic nerve damage and permanent blindness. In fact, most people who use amiodarone will develop corneal microdeposits which can interfere with proper vision and inflame and damage the optic nerve.
Studies have shown that some of the most common eye-related side effects of this heart drug include:
- Blurred vision
- Eye pain
- Eye sensitivity to sunlight
- Loss of eyebrows or eyelashes
- Seeing halos
However, because of how the drug interacts the processes of the body, it can also cause several serious eye conditions, such as:
- Macular degeneration or the deterioration of the central portion of the retina leading to severe vision loss
- Papilledema or swelling of the optic disc caused by an increase in intracranial pressure
- Scotoma or partial vision loss or blind spot in your field of vision
- Optic neuropathy or gradual death of the fibers of the optic nerve
See your ophthalmologist immediately if you believe you are experiencing vision problems, and you have taken or are taking amiodarone.
Amiodarone-Induced Hypothyroidism (AIH) and Amiodarone-Induced Thyrotoxicosis (AIT)
Amiodarone can also damage the butterfly-shaped gland in your neck called the thyroid gland. This gland is responsible for regulating your metabolism as well as most other body processes.
The high iodine content of Amiodarone can deliver more than 100 times the recommended daily allowance to the body. This high iodine level can damage the thyroid gland, causing patients to develop Amiodarone-Induced Hypothyroidism (AIH) or Amiodarone-Induced Thyrotoxicosis (AIT) during use or even months after the use of the drug is stopped.
If Amiodarone is affecting your thyroid, you may experience the following signs and symptoms of AIT:
- Atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rate)
- Brain fog
- Cold sensitivity
- Difficulty concentrating
- Dry skin
- Heart failure
- Hoarse or deep voice
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Muscle weakness and pain
- Sinus tachycardia (fast heart rate)
- Unexplained weight gain
Also, it should be noted that there are two distinct types of AIT.
- Type 1 AIT is an induced hyperthyroid condition may be followed by hypothyroidism. The thyroid disorder may resolve in time, or you will stay hypothyroid and need to take thyroid hormones for the rest of your life.
- Type 2 AIT is significantly more damaging as it destroys the thyroid tissue causing inflammation and fibrosis that can permanently damage the gland and cause a flood a hormone to be released, which can lead to cardiac issues such as atrial fibrillation.
How We Can Help
Amiodarone drugs Cordarone and Pacerone have been associated with a wide variety of serious and potentially life-threatening side effects like pulmonary toxicity, liver damage, blindness, thyroid damage, and even death. Even though the FDA approved these drugs for use only as a last resort, allegations include that the manufacturers are marketing the drugs for off-label uses and as the first line of action for certain cardiac events.
Currently, lawsuits filed against Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Par Pharmaceutical Companies, on behalf of individuals or their families who have suffered injury or death because of taking Amiodarone, are pending across the country.
We are reviewing claims on behalf of Amiodarone victims that allege that the drug manufacturers failed their duty to ensure these drugs were safe for patients before putting them on the market. We believe that the drug makers did breach their legal duty to protect the lives of those who depend on these medications, while negligently marketing the drugs for off-label uses.
If you suffered pulmonary toxicity, liver damage, thyroid damage, or vision loss after being treated with amiodarone, you might be eligible for financial compensation for your injuries, and we stand ready to help you get it. We’ve been fighting dangerous drug makers for years, and we will fight for you.
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