• Generic Name: tolvaptan tablets
  • Brand Name: Samsca
  • Drug Class: Vasopressin Antagonists
Last updated on MDtodate: 10/11/2022


Clinical Trials Experience

Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reactions rates observed in the clinical trials of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice. The adverse event information from clinical trials does, however, provide a basis for identifying the adverse events that appear to be related to drug use and for approximating rates.

In multiple-dose, placebo-controlled trials, 607 hyponatremic patients (serum sodium <135 mEq/L) were treated with SAMSCA. The mean age of these patients was 62 years; 70% of patients were male and 82% were Caucasian. One hundred eighty-nine (189) tolvaptan-treated patients had a serum sodium <130 mEq/L, and 52 patients had a serum sodium <125 mEq/L. Hyponatremia was attributed to cirrhosis in 17% of patients, heart failure in 68% and SIADH/other in 16%. Of these patients, 223 were treated with the recommended dose titration (15 mg titrated to 60 mg as needed to raise serum sodium).

Overall, over 4,000 patients have been treated with oral doses of tolvaptan in open-label or placebo-controlled clinical trials. Approximately 650 of these patients had hyponatremia; approximately 219 of these hyponatremic patients were treated with tolvaptan for 6 months or more.

The most common adverse reactions (incidence ≥5% more than placebo) seen in two 30-day, double-blind, placebo-controlled hyponatremia trials in which tolvaptan was administered in titrated doses (15 mg to 60 mg once daily) were thirst, dry mouth, asthenia, constipation, pollakiuria or polyuria and hyperglycemia. In these trials, 10% (23/223) of tolvaptan-treated patients discontinued treatment because of an adverse event, compared to 12% (26/220) of placebo-treated patients; no adverse reaction resulting in discontinuation of trial medication occurred at an incidence of >1% in tolvaptan-treated patients.

Table 1 lists the adverse reactions reported in tolvaptan-treated patients with hyponatremia (serum sodium <135 mEq/L) and at a rate at least 2% greater than placebo-treated patients in two 30-day, double-blind, placebocontrolled trials. In these studies, 223 patients were exposed to tolvaptan (starting dose 15 mg, titrated to 30 and 60 mg as needed to raise serum sodium). Adverse events resulting in death in these trials were 6% in tolvaptantreated patients and 6% in placebo-treated patients.

Table 1: Adverse Reactions (>2% more than placebo) in Tolvaptan-Treated Patients in Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Hyponatremia Trials

System Organ Class
MedDRA Preferred Term
Tolvaptan 15 mg/day to 60 mg/day
(N = 223)
n (%)
(N = 220)
n (%)
Gastrointestinal Disorders
Dry mouth 28 (13) 9 (4)
Constipation 16 (7) 4 (2)
General Disorders and Administration Site Conditions
Thirst* 35 (16) 11 (5)
Asthenia 19 (9) 9 (4)
Pyrexia 9 (4) 2 (1)
Metabolism and Nutrition Disorders
Hyperglycemia† 14 (6) 2 (1)
Anorexia‡ 8 (4) 2 (1)
Renal and Urinary Disorders
Pollakiuria or polyuria§ 25 (11) 7 (3)
The following terms are subsumed under the referenced ADR in Table 1:
* polydipsia, † diabetes mellitus, ‡ decreased appetite, § urine output increased, micturition urgency, nocturia


In a subgroup of patients with hyponatremia (N = 475, serum sodium <135 mEq/L) enrolled in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial (mean duration of treatment was 9 months) of patients with worsening heart failure, the following adverse reactions occurred in tolvaptan-treated patients at a rate at least 2% greater than placebo: mortality (42% tolvaptan, 38% placebo), nausea (21% tolvaptan, 16% placebo), thirst (12% tolvaptan, 2% placebo), dry mouth (7% tolvaptan, 2% placebo) and polyuria or pollakiuria (4% tolvaptan, 1% placebo).

Gastrointestinal Bleeding In Patients With Cirrhosis

In patients with cirrhosis treated with tolvaptan in the hyponatremia trials, gastrointestinal bleeding was reported in 6 out of 63 (10%) tolvaptan-treated patients and 1 out of 57 (2%) placebo treated patients.

The following adverse reactions occurred in <2% of hyponatremic patients treated with SAMSCA and at a rate greater than placebo in double-blind placebo-controlled trials (N = 607 tolvaptan; N = 518 placebo) or in <2% of patients in an uncontrolled trial of patients with hyponatremia (N = 111) and are not mentioned elsewhere in the label.

Blood and Lymphatic System Disorders: Disseminated intravascular coagulation

Cardiac Disorders: Intracardiac thrombus, ventricular fibrillation

Investigations: Prothrombin time prolonged

Gastrointestinal Disorders: Ischemic colitis

Metabolism and Nutrition Disorders: Diabetic ketoacidosis

Musculoskeletal and Connective Tissue Disorders: Rhabdomyolysis

Nervous System: Cerebrovascular accident

Renal and Urinary Disorders: Urethral hemorrhage

Reproductive System and Breast Disorders (female): Vaginal hemorrhage

Respiratory, Thoracic, and Mediastinal Disorders: Pulmonary embolism, respiratory failure

Vascular disorder: Deep vein thrombosis

Postmarketing Experience

The following adverse reactions have been identified during post-approval use of SAMSCA. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of an unknown size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.

Neurologic: Osmotic demyelination syndrome

Investigations: Hypernatremia

Removal of excess free body water increases serum osmolality and serum sodium concentrations. All patients treated with tolvaptan, especially those whose serum sodium levels become normal, should continue to be monitored to ensure serum sodium remains within normal limits. If hypernatremia is observed, management may include dose decreases or interruption of tolvaptan treatment, combined with modification of free-water intake or infusion. During clinical trials of hyponatremic patients, hypernatremia was reported as an adverse event in 0.7% of patients receiving tolvaptan vs. 0.6% of patients receiving placebo; analysis of laboratory values demonstrated an incidence of hypernatremia of 1.7% in patients receiving tolvaptan vs. 0.8% in patients receiving placebo.

Immune System Disorders: Hypersensitivity reactions including anaphylactic shock and rash generalized.