Drug interactions with cisapride: clinical implications

Clin Pharmacokinet. 2000 Jul;39(1):49-75. doi: 10.2165/00003088-200039010-00004.


Cisapride, a prokinetic agent, has been used for the treatment of a number of gastrointestinal disorders, particularly gastro-oesophageal reflux disease in adults and children. Since 1993, 341 cases of ventricular arrhythmias, including 80 deaths, have been reported to the US Food and Drug Administration. Marketing of the drug has now been discontinued in the US; however, it is still available under a limited-access protocol. Knowledge of the risk factors for cisapride-associated arrhythmias will be essential for its continued use in those patients who meet the eligibility criteria. This review summarises the published literature on the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic interactions of cisapride with concomitantly administered drugs, providing clinicians with practical recommendations for avoiding these potentially fatal events. Pharmacokinetic interactions with cisapride involve inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) 3A4, the primary mode of elimination of cisapride, thereby increasing plasma concentrations of the drug. The macrolide antibacterials clarithromycin, erythromycin and troleandomycin are inhibitors of CYP3A4 and should not be used in conjunction with cisapride. Azithromycin is an alternative. Similarly, azole antifungal agents such as fluconazole, itraconazole and ketoconazole are CYP3A4 inhibitors and their concomitant use with cisapride should be avoided. Of the antidepressants nefazodone and fluvoxamine should be avoided with cisapride. Data with fluoxetine is controversial, we favour the avoidance of its use. Citalopram, paroxetine and sertraline are alternatives. The HIV protease inhibitors amprenavir, indinavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir and saquinavir inhibit CYP3A4. Clinical experience with cisapride is lacking but avoidance with all protease inhibitors is recommended, although saquinavir is thought to have clinically insignificant effects on CYP3A4. Delavirdine is also a CYP3A4 inhibitor and should be avoided with cisapride. We also recommend avoiding coadministration of cisapride with amiodarone, cimetidine (alternatives are famotidine, nizatidine, ranitidine or one of the proton pump inhibitors), diltiazem and verapamil (the dihydropyridine calcium antagonists are alternatives), grapefruit juice, isoniazid, metronidazole, quinine, quinupristin/dalfopristin and zileuton (montelukast is an alternative). Pharmacodynamic interactions with cisapride involve drugs that have the potential to have additive effects on the QT interval. We do not recommend use of cisapride with class Ia and III antiarrhythmic drugs or with adenosine, bepridil, cyclobenzaprine, droperidol, haloperidol, nifedipine (immediate release), phenothiazine antipsychotics, tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants or vasopressin. Vigilance is advised if anthracyclines, cotrimoxazole (trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole), enflurane, halothane, isoflurane, pentamidine or probucol are used with cisapride. In addition, uncorrected electrolyte disturbances induced by diuretics may increase the risk of torsade de pointes. Patients receiving cisapride should be promptly treated for electrolyte disturbances.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cisapride / adverse effects
  • Cisapride / pharmacokinetics*
  • Cisapride / pharmacology
  • Drug Interactions
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / adverse effects
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / pharmacology
  • Humans


  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Cisapride