Advances in percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) have allowed procedures to be performed on a variety of patients with a spectrum of challenging coronary anatomy. Abciximab has permitted further expansion and has made the procedure safer. Abciximab is a chimerised murine monoclonal antibody directed against the platelet glycoprotein (GP) IIb-IIIa receptor. Binding to this receptor inhibits platelet aggregation to a wide variety of biological agonists. It also binds to α(v)β3 and leucocyte MAC-1 receptors; the biological significance of its affinity to these receptors is unclear. Abciximab has an extremely short plasma half-life. Since abciximab binds to the platelet GP IIb-IIIa receptor with great avidity it has an extremely long biological half-life. The use of abciximab is currently confined primarily to PCIs. The first large trial, EPIC, established that abciximab, given with aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) and heparin, reduced the frequency of peri-procedural ischaemic events by 35% in high-risk patients. For this reduction a bolus of 0.25 mg/kg was followed by a 12-hour infusion of abciximab. However, the transfusion rate was doubled. A subsequent trial, EPILOG, indicated that reduction of the dose of heparin along with expeditious removal of arterial access sheaths, reduced the rate of haemorrhagic complications to a level comparable with placebo-treated patients, while also amplifying the reduction in ischaemic events. In a third trial, EPISTENT, this benefit was shown to include patients undergoing elective coronary stent implantation. Additional trials have demonstrated that the same effect is present in patients undergoing primary PCI for acute myocardial infarction and in patients undergoing PCI for refractory unstable angina pectoris. In the latter situation, treatment with abciximab for 18 to 24 hours preceding the intervention reduced the rate of myocardial infarction even before the procedure was begun. The rationale for the use abciximab is thus clearly established. Bleeding complications can be reduced by limiting the heparin dose, avoiding unneeded venous access site punctures, and expeditious removal of arterial sheaths. In emergency coronary artery bypass surgery, platelet transfusion reduces the number of receptors occupied per platelet and is likely to reduce the degree of postoperative bleeding. The cost of abciximab remains an issue; however, this is partially offset by the reduction in ischaemic complications and accompanying resource use. In patients undergoing elective coronary stenting, abciximab use reduced the long term rate of target vessel revascularisation. The degree to which this reduction results in further cost savings will require further analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-57
Number of pages15
JournalDrug Safety
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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