Pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic modelling of QT interval prolongation following citalopram overdoses

L FRIBERG, Geoffrey Isbister, S DUFFULL

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: To develop a pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic model describing the time-course of QT interval prolongation after citalopram overdose and to evaluate the effect of charcoal on the relative risk of developing abnormal QT and heart-rate combinations. Methods: Plasma concentrations and electrocardiograph (ECG) data from 52 patients after 62 citalopram overdose events were analysed in WinBUGS using a Bayesian approach. The reported doses ranged from 20 to 1700 mg and on 17 of the events a single dose of activated charcoal was administered. The developed pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic model was used for predicting the probability of having abnormal combinations of QT-RR, which was assumed to be related to an increased risk for torsade de pointes (TdP). Results: The absolute QT interval was related to the observed heart rate with an estimated individual heart-rate correction factor ? = 0.36, between-subject coefficient of variation (CV) =29%. The heart-rate corrected QT interval was linearly dependent on the predicted citalopram concentration (slope = 40 ms l mg-1, between-subject CV =70%) in a hypothetical effect-compartment (half-life of effect-delay = 1.4 h). The heart-rate corrected QT was predicted to be higher in women than in men and to increase with age. Administration of activated charcoal resulted in a pronounced reduction of the QT prolongation and was shown to reduce the risk of having abnormal combinations of QT-RR by approximately 60% for citalopram doses above 600 mg. Conclusion: Citalopram caused a delayed lengthening of the QT interval. Administration of activated charcoal was shown to reduce the risk that the QT interval exceeds a previously defined threshold and therefore is expected to reduce the risk of TdP. � 2005 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-190
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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