What is Eptifibatide?

Christian Theodore

Eptifibatide is an injectable anti-platelet prescription drug used in the treatment of acute chest pain or heart attack and during coronary catheterization, a surgical procedure that uses a catheter to try to reach the blood-lined chambers of the heart. Patients undergoing this treatment may benefit from taking eptifibatide, which is sold under the brand name Integrilin®, to prevent blood clots from forming during the procedure. Other uses for eptifibatide include general blood thinning, which may be useful for patients with a history of hypertension or who are undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention. Eptifibatide works by stopping the binding of fibrinogen and other blood clotting factors that may lead to heart attack or stroke. It is used in conjunction with aspirin or other medications.

Eptifibatide may be given to a patient after a heart attack.
Eptifibatide may be given to a patient after a heart attack.

Clinically, Eptifibatide is a successful and highly researched drug. It has been shown in studies to prevent death and further episodes related to heart attack and congestive heart failure. The drug's intravenous usage and blood-thinning nature means some precautions are required. For example, other drugs that may discourage blood clotting tend not to interact well with eptifibatide. Before taking eptifibatide, a patient should discuss all of his medicines — including vitamins and other nutritional supplements — with his doctor, being sure the doctor is aware if those medications include other platelet inhibitors or anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin.

Eptifibatide is often taken in conjunction with aspirin.
Eptifibatide is often taken in conjunction with aspirin.

Though uncommon, some complications arise from the use of eptifibatide. Major bleeding can occur at the entry point for cardiac catheterization, and the drug's blood-thinning properties complicate efforts to stop the flow. Low blood pressure can also be a complication of taking the medication, though it is said to be rare. Some complications arise from human error or patient noncooperation. Only patients who are hospitalized should be prescribed this medicine, in part because of the nature of the health condition that warrants the drug's use and, in part, because of the possible side effects.

Eptifibatide was developed in 2001 by COR Therapeutics scientists Robert M. Scarborough and David Phillips. COR Therapeutics was later acquired by Millennium Pharmaceuticals, which marketed and produced the drug as of 2011. Additionally, eptifibatide and its brand name, Integrilin®, are also co-promoted by Schering-Plough.

Eptifibatide is derived from a protein found in the venom of the southeastern pygmy rattlesnake. The drug joins a long list of pharmaceuticals that reduce or prevent blood clotting. These include tirofiban and bivalirudin.

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