Benefit-risk assessment of tolterodine in the treatment of overactive bladder in adults

Alan D. Garely, Lara Burrows

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Overactive bladder is associated with symptoms of urgency, with or without urge incontinence, usually with daytime frequency and nocturia in the absence of local pathological factors. Muscarinic receptor antagonists (antimuscarinics) are the first-line pharmacotherapy. Tolterodine, a competitive, nonselective antimuscarinic specifically developed for the treatment of overactive bladder, demonstrated tissue selectivity for the bladder over the parotid gland in an animal model. As of March 5, 2003, the immediate-release (IR) formulation had been approved in 72 countries and the extended-release (ER) formulation had been approved in 28 countries, and tolterodine had been administered to 5 million patients. This review evaluates the benefit-risk profile of tolterodine in the treatment of adults with overactive bladder, summarising clinical trial and postmarketing surveillance data. Tolterodine has been found to significantly reduce micturition frequency, urgency perception and the number of episodes of urge incontinence and increase the volume voided per micturition. Dry mouth, an antimuscarinic class effect, is the most commonly reported adverse effect but is mostly mild to moderate in severity. Serious adverse effects are reported infrequently. Based on summary and review of postmarketing surveillance and clinical trial safety data received by the market authorisation holder and contained in the Periodic Safety Update Reports for tolterodine, several monitored serious events of the gastrointestinal tract (e.g. ileus or haemorrhage), nervous system (e.g. syncope, convulsions and memory disorders) and cardiovascular system (e.g. ventricular arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation, palpitations, bradycardia, transient ischaemic attacks and hypertension) were not considered related to tolterodine. QT or corrected QT (QTc) prolongation was not observed in any of the five cases of verified ventricular arrhythmia in patients administered tolterodine; there is insufficient evidence to indicate that tolterodine causes ventricular arrhythmia or extrasystoles or any specific type of cardiac rhythm abnormality. The safety profile of tolterodine is similar in patients aged ≥65 years and in younger adults. Clinically relevant drug interactions are limited to cytochrome P450 3A4 inhibitors, such as ketoconazole, and co-administration with such agents warrants a tolterodine dosage decrease. In addition, tolterodine IR 2mg twice daily is similar in efficacy to oxybutynin IR 5mg three times daily, and tolterodine ER 4mg once daily is similar in efficacy to oxybutynin ER 10mg once daily. Dry mouth occurred less frequently with tolterodine than oxybutynin, and moderate to severe dry mouth occurred more than three times less frequently. Based on the low frequency of adverse events, the absence of unexpected adverse events and the very low frequency of serious adverse events, we conclude that tolterodine is a well tolerated treatment for overactive bladder in adults, in whom it should be considered as first-line therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1043-1057
Number of pages15
JournalDrug Safety
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


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