Learn more about Multaq for treating AFib. Treating your atrial fibrillation (also known as AFib) can come with the option of many different medications and procedures. Every medication has important uses and side effects, so it is essential to understand your medications as best as possible.
One class of medication that are frequently used are anti-arrhythmic drugs. These drugs help to control the rhythm of your heart and prevent unwanted heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation (AFib) or atrial flutter that could lead to severe symptoms or hospitalization.
Multaq (dronedarone) is one type of antiarrhythmic drug. Today I’ll go over how Multaq works, and how it compares to a similar medication called amiodarone. I’ll also discuss Multaq side effects and very concerning black box warnings. Lastly, I’ll discuss how to save money on your Multaq prescription.
What is Multaq?
Multaq was developed by the pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis as an anti-arrhythmic medication. It was first approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in July 2009. While one of Multaq’s main patents has expired, there are others still in effect until at least 2029.
This means that Multaq is available in brand name form only and there is currently no generic form of Multaq available.
It comes in pill form and is taken twice a day. It only comes in one dose, 400 mg, the most common dose is 400 mg twice a day. Unlike some other anti-arrhythmic drugs, you do not have to be admitted to the hospital to start it.
What Is Multaq Used For?
Multaq is a Class III anti-arrhythmic drug. This type of medicine affects the way that potassium flows into the cells of your heart. This causes the electrical activity in your heart to take longer to reset in between heartbeats. If your heart rate is too fast, such as when you have atrial fibrillation with RVR or atrial flutter, this medication can help reduce episodes of atrial fibrillation. As a result of reduced episodes, Multaq can also reduce AFib symptoms as well.
Class III drugs work well to convert atrial fibrillation patients to normal sinus rhythm and help them maintain it.
Several studies have shown a significant benefit for Multaq to control atrial fibrillation:
1. The EURIDIS/ADONIS study showed that Multaq can reduce the time to recurrence of AFib symptoms by approximately 25%.
2. The ATHENA study showed that Multaq can reduce the risk for hospitalization due to AFib by 39%.
Another well-known Class III anti-arrhythmic drug that is also frequently used to treat atrial fibrillation is amiodarone (also sold as Pacerone or Cordarone). Mutaq was designed to be similar to amiodarone, but without all the significant long-term side effects of amiodarone.
Multaq Versus Amiodarone
Multaq is in the same class and has a similar chemical structure to amiodarone, another medication that is commonly used to treat atrial fibrillation.
Amiodarone is a very effective medication for AFib, but it comes with an elevated risk for side effects and the potential for significant long-term toxicity. Read more about amiodarone side effects and toxicity here.
A systematic overview published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reviewed the data from nine different trials. They concluded that for every 1,000 patients treated with Multaq instead of amiodarone, there would be 9.6 fewer deaths and 62 fewer adverse events that caused the patient to stop the medication.
This increase in safety came at the price of some effectiveness though. Those 1,000 patients on Multaq would also experience 228 more AFib recurrences than on amiodarone.
You and your doctor will have to weigh the risks versus benefits of each of these medications based on your symptoms and your medical history.
What Are The Common Side Effects of Taking Multaq?
All medications have some risk of side effects. A safety evaluation of Multaq evaluated 5 placebo-controlled studies involving over 6000 patients. Overall, 11.8% of patients treated with Multaq and 7.7% of the patients getting a placebo stopped taking the medication due to reported adverse effects.
The most common Multaq side effects reported were:
● Stomach pain
● Feeling weak or tired
● Skin irritation such as redness, a rash, or itching
It is recommended to take Multaq twice a day with food, per the manufacturer, many of the common side effects can be reduced when the medication is taken with food as recommended.
Avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while using this medication unless your doctor or pharmacist says you may do so safely. Grapefruit can increase the risk of of side effects with this medicine.
Less common, but more serious side effects that have been reported with Multaq include:
● Bradycardia (a slower heart rate than normal)
● Inflammation of the lungs that can lead to scarring and thickening (Pulmonary Toxicity)
● QT Prolongation (Increasing the reset time after a heartbeat too much, and thus increasing risk for dangerous ventricular arrhythmias.)
● Acute Liver Injury
● Acute Kidney Injury
Your doctor will monitor your blood work before and during your treatment. Be sure to mention any possible side effects you experience while taking Multaq.
Black Box Warnings for Multaq
Black box warnings are the strictest type of warning mandated by the FDA. These warnings are used for drugs and medical devices that have potentially serious or life-threatening medical concerns.
These medications are still used because they have a greater chance of helping your condition than hurting you. The black box warning is added so that you and your doctor know that special care is needed when you take that medicine.
Multaq has 2 essential black box warnings from the FDA:
1. MULTAQ is contraindicated in patients with symptomatic heart failure with recent decompensation requiring hospitalization or NYHA Class IV heart failure. MULTAQ doubles the risk of death in these patients.
2. MULTAQ is contraindicated in patients in atrial fibrillation (AF) who will not or cannot be cardioverted into normal sinus rhythm. In patients with permanent AF, MULTAQ doubles the risk of death, stroke, and hospitalization for heart failure.
As a result, Multaq can only be used in patients with intermittent (also called paroxysmal) atrial fibrillation, without a history of heart failure.
How Much Does Multaq Cost?
Multaq is available only in brand name form. This means that it is likely to be more expensive than other options that have a generic form available.
According to prescription savings site GoodRx, the retail price of Multaq at common pharmacies ranges from $770 to $887 for a 30-day supply. Patients with a GoodRx card can get Multaq for as low as $656.28.
Multaq is covered by most Medicare and private insurance plans, but due to cost, it is likely to be in a higher cost tier or have some insurance restrictions.
Your personal out of pocket costs will be determined by the benefits of your individual plan.
Save Money On Your Prescription With A Multaq Coupon
If you and your doctor decide that Multaq is the best choice to help you manage your AFib, there are several ways to help manage the cost.
The Multaq Savings Card Program
Patients with private insurance or no insurance may qualify for the Multaq Savings Card Program.
You can register online and print out a coupon card good for up to 13 uses. This card can reduce your out-of-pocket insurance costs by up to $400 per fill with a maximum savings of $3,000 per year.
If you pay cash for your prescription, you may save up to $150 per fill with a maximum annual savings of $1,950.
The Sanofi Patient Assistance Program
Most limited income patients with insurance and some Medicare Part D patients can qualify for the Sanofi Patient Assistance Program.
You can download a form from the website and have your doctor fill it out. If you are approved, you can have your medication shipped to your doctor’s office for no charge for up to 12 months.
If you need assistance for longer than 12 months, you can reapply yearly.
More information on assistance programs is available at the Sanofi Patient Assistance Program.
The Guide To Reverse Atrial Fibrillation Naturally
If you are interested in natural treatment options for atrial fibrillation and are highly motivated in improving your symptoms naturally, to reduce your need for medications or even procedures, then take a look at my one-of-a-kind, online educational program, Take Control Over AFib.
Lifestyle modifications and reducing inflammation are essential components of the long-term management of atrial fibrillation. Addressing the source cause of atrial fibrillation can lead to a significant benefit for most AFib patients. Targeted lifestyle modifications can reduce your symptoms, reduce your reliance on medications or procedures, and even improve the long-term success rate of procedures for AFib. However, most patients are not given instructions or tips on how to accomplish these essential lifestyle modifications in an AFib targeted style.
This is exactly why I created the Take Control Over AFib Program, to give people a step-by-step plan to improve and potentially reverse atrial fibrillation naturally.
Thinking about lifestyle modifications is easy, but putting in place a system to keep you committed to achieve real results takes time and dedication, and with my step-by-step plan, we can achieve powerful and long-lasting results together.
Multaq is an effective anti-arrhythmic medication that can significantly reduce episodes of atrial fibrillation as well as reduce risk for hospitalization due to AFib, with less long-term toxicity risk when compared to amiodarone.
However, Multaq still has several significant black-box warnings and should only be prescribed in patients without heart failure and with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation only.
As always, please discuss with your doctor to find out if Multaq can be helpful in the treatment of your AFib.