An open-label, uncontrolled dose-optimization study of sublingual apomorphine in erectile dysfunction
Mulhall JP, Bukofzer S, Edmonds AL, George M;
Apomorphine SL Study Group.
Department of Urology,
Loyola University Medical Center,
Maywood, Illinois 60153, USA.
Clin Ther 2001 Aug;23(8):1260-71


BACKGROUND: Because apomorphine is a dopamine agonist that acts on areas of the central nervous system believed to mediate penile erection, its use in erectile dysfunction (ED) has been investigated. However, it also produces nausea by dopamine-receptor stimulation of the chemotrigger zone in the brain. Therefore, a low plasma concentration, achieved rapidly, would be selective for the desired erectile response but would be below the dopamine threshold for nausea. OBJECTIVE: We evaluated the efficacy and tolerability of a dose-optimized regimen of a sublingual formulation of apomorphine (apomorphine SL) in the treatment of ED. METHODS: This was a multicenter, open-label, uncontrolled, Phase III dose-optimization study of apomorphine SL in heterosexual men with ED. The 2-week screening period, during which baseline severity of ED was determined using the International Index of Erectile Function, was followed by a 3-week dose-optimization period beginning at a dose of 2 mg. Patients were to make at least 2 attempts at intercourse per week throughout the study, placing 1 apomorphine tablet under the tongue beforehand. At the end of the first week, the dose could be increased to 3 mg at the discretion of the investigator; at the end of the second week, the dose could be increased to a maximum of 4 mg or decreased as needed. In the following 4-week treatment period, patients took their individual optimal doses. The primary efficacy variable was the percentage of attempts resulting in erections firm enough for intercourse, as assessed by investigators' review of data from patients' diaries. Secondary variables included the percentage of attempts resulting in successful intercourse, time to erection, and duration of erection. Information about adverse events, including their severity and relation to treatment, was determined on the basis of direct questioning, spontaneous reports, and review of patient diaries. RESULTS: The study enrolled 849 heterosexual men whose ages ranged from 31 to 78 years (mean, 58.1 years). They had a mean 5.7-year history of ED of varbus causes. ED was mild in 11.5% of the men, moderate in 23.8 c, and severe in 48.1%. When results of the last 8 attempts were pooled, representing the period during which patients were taking their optimal doses of apomorphine SL, the mean percentage of attempts resulting in erections firm enough for intercourse was 39.4%, compared with 13.1% at baseline; attempts resulting in intercourse increased from a mean of 12.7% at baseline to 38.3% with treatment. The average median time to erection was 23 minutes, and the average median duration of erection was 13 minutes. Nausea, the most common treatment-related adverse event (11.7%). was dose related and diminished with continued dosing. One patient had a single syncopal episode that was judged to be related to apomorphine SL. CONCLUSIONS: In the present study, a dose-optimization regimen of apomorphine SL-with dosing initiated at 2 mg and adjusted up to a maximum of 4 mg as needed-was effective and well tolerated in the treatment of ED, regardless of its cause or severity.

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