Skip to Content

Lepirudin Side Effects

Applies to lepirudin: intravenous powder for injection


Other hemorrhagic events (hemoperitoneum, hemoptysis, liver bleeding, lung bleeding, mouth bleeding, retroperitoneal bleeding) each occurred in one individual among 198 patients treated with lepirudin in controlled trials.[Ref]

Hemorrhagic events have been the most common and potentially serious side effects associated with the use of lepirudin. The following were reported during controlled trials: bleeding from puncture sites and wounds (10.6% to 14.1%); anemia or isolated drop in hemoglobin concentration (12.4% to 13.1%); hematoma or unclassified hemorrhage (10.6% to 11.1%); gastrointestinal or rectal bleeding (5.1% to 5.3%); epistaxis (3.0% to 4.4%); hemothorax (0% to 3.0%); vaginal bleeding (1.5% to 1.8%); intracranial bleeding (0%). Intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) has been observed in patients with acute myocardial infarction who were started on both thrombolytic therapy and lepirudin. The overall prevalence of ICH in this population was 0.6% (7 of 1134 patients). ICH was not observed among 1168 patients who did not receive concomitant thrombolytic therapy. There has been at least one case report of thrombocytopenia.[Ref]


Serious anaphylactic reactions resulting in shock or death have been reported.[Ref]

Hypersensitivity reactions have occurred in up to 10% of patients and have included skin rashes, pruritus, urticaria, flushing, or chills (less than 1.0% to 3.5%) and airway reactions, such as cough, bronchospasm, stridor, dyspnea (up to 10%). Anaphylaxis or anaphylactoid reactions have been observed in less than 1% of patients. Approximately 53% of allergic or suspected allergic reactions occurred in patients also receiving thrombolytic therapy for acute myocardial infarction and/or contrast media for coronary angiography.[Ref]


Antihirudin antibodies have been reported in approximately 40% of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia patients receiving lepirudin. Complexation of lepirudin to these antibodies may increase the anticoagulant effect due to delayed renal elimination of active complexes. Lepirudin neutralization and allergic reactions have not been reported despite positive antibody tests. Adverse reactions following reexposure have been limited to mild skin reactions.[Ref]


Respiratory effects as a result of hypersensitivity reactions have been reported in up to 10% of patients. Symptoms included cough, bronchospasm, stridor, and dyspnea. Pneumonia has occurred in up to 4.4% of patients compared with 5.5% in control patients.[Ref]


Abnormal elevations of liver transaminases and other measurements of liver function have been reported in approximately 6% of patients.[Ref]


General side effects have included fever (4% to 6% of patients) and unspecified allergic reactions (less than 1% of patients).

The prevalence of sepsis, unspecified infections, and multiorgan failure has been similar among treated versus control patients (4.0% versus 5.5%, 2.5% versus 1.1%, and 2.0% versus 0%, respectively).[Ref]


Cardiovascular side effects have included new or worsened heart failure in up to 3% of patients. Pericardial effusion and ventricular fibrillation each have been reported in 1% of patients. Edema (facial, tongue, laryngeal, or angioedema) has been associated rarely with use of lepirudin.[Ref]


New or worsened renal insufficiency has been observed in 1.8% to 2.5% of patients versus 4.4% among control patients.[Ref]


1. Schroeder WS, Tran MT, Gandhi PJ "Lepirudin-induced thrombocytopenia following subcutaneous administration." Am J Health Syst Pharm 66 (2009): 834-7

2. Greinacher A, Volpel H, Janssens U, HachWunderle V, KemkesMatthes B, Eichler P, MuellerVelten HG, Potzsch B "Recombinant hirudin (Lepirndin) provides safe and effective anticoagulation in patients with heparin-induced thrombocytopenia - A prospective study." Circulation 99 (1999): 73-80

3. "Product Information. Refludan (lepirudin)." Hoechst Marion-Roussel Inc, Kansas City, MO.

4. Organization to Assess Strategies for Ischemic Syndromes (OASIS) Investigators. "Comparison of the effects of two doses of recombinant hirudin compared with heparin in patients with acute myocardial ischemia without ST elevation: a pilot study." Circulation 96 (1997): 769-77

5. Zeymer U, von Essen R, Tebbe U, Michels HR, Jessel A, Vogt A, Roth M, Appel KF, Neuhaus KL "Recombinant hirudin and front-loaded alteplase in acute myocardial infarction: final results of a pilot study. HIT-I (hirudin for th improvement of thrombolysis)." Eur Heart J 16(suppl d) (1995): 22-7

6. Greinacher A, Janssens U, Berg G, Bock M, Kwasny H, KemkesMatthes B, Eichler P, Volpel H, Potzsch B, Luz M "Lepirudin (Recombinant hirudin) for parenteral anticoagulation in patients with heparin-induced thrombocytopenia." Circulation 100 (1999): 587-93

7. Schiele F, Vuillemenot A, Kramarz P, Kieffer Y, Anguenot T, Bernard Y, Bassand JP "Use of recombinant hirudin as antithrombotic treatment in patients with heparin-induced thrombocytopenia." Am J Hematol 50 (1995): 20-5

8. Song XH, Huhle G, Wang LC, Hoffmann U, Harenberg J "Generation of anti-hirudin antibodies in heparin-induced thrombocytopenic patients treated with r-hirudin." Circulation 100 (1999): 1528-32

9. Greinacher A, Lubenow N, Eichler P "Anaphylactic and anaphylactoid reactions associated with lepirudin in patients with heparin-induced thrombocytopenia." Circulation 108 (2003): 2062-5

10. Bircher AJ, Czendlik CH, Messmer SL, Muller P, Howald H "Acute urticaria caused by subcutaneous recombinant hirudin: evidence for an IgG-mediated hypersensitivity reaction." J Allergy Clin Immunol 98 (1996): 994-6

11. Huhle G, Hoffmann U, Song X, Wang LC, Heene DL, Harenberg J "Immunologic response to recombinant hirudin in HIT type II patients during long-term treatment." Br J Haematol 106 (1999): 195-201

Some side effects of lepirudin may not be reported. Always consult your doctor or healthcare specialist for medical advice. You may also report side effects to the FDA.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.