New AFib Drug Could be More Effective than Current Treatment

Vernakalant was able to normalize heart rhythm more rapidly than current atrial fibrillation drugs.

A recent study found that Vernakalant, a new drug to treat recent-onset atrial fibrillation (AFib), was able to normalize patients’ heart rhythm more rapidly with less side effects than Ibutilide.

In this randomized trial conducted at the Department of Emergency Medicine at Medical University of Vienna, researchers compared 2 drugs that treat atrial flutter, Vernakalant (Brinavess) and Ibutilide (Corvert).

Researchers found that Vernakalant was able to convert to a normal sinus rhythm within 10 minutes on average compared with Ibutilide, which had an average of 26 minutes.

After 90 minutes, approximately 69% of patients treated with Vernakalant were in normal sinus rhythm compared with 43% of the Ibutilide group.

Electric cardioversion under brief anesthesia was required less often to restore sinus rhythm in patients taking Vernakalant, according to the study.

"Furthermore, in Vernakalant pretreated patients’ sinus rhythm could be restored easier, necessitating a lower number of shocks," said study author Alexander Spiel, MD.

Though Ibutilide remains the first choice, researchers said the results show Vernakalant has advantages for patients with recent onset atrial fibrillation and no or moderate structural heart disease, the study concluded.