Evaluation of the pharmacological properties and clinical results of the synthetic pentasaccharide (fondaparinux)

Thromb Res. 2003 Jan 1;109(1):1-11. doi: 10.1016/s0049-3848(03)00030-6.


Fondaparinux (Arixtra) is the first of a new class of selective indirect antithrombin-dependent factor Xa inhibitors, which inhibits thrombin generation. Fondaparinux is a completely synthetic pentasaccharide. It is a single molecular entity with a well-defined pharmacological target. Fondaparinux has nearly complete bioavailability after subcutaneous injection. The pharmacokinetics of fondaparinux appears predictable and consistent. The peak plasma level is obtained about 2 h after the subcutaneous injection, indicating that a rapid onset of antithrombotic activity is obtained on initiation of treatment. The elimination half-life is about 17 h and it is dose-independent, which allows a convenient once-daily dosing regimen. Fondaparinux is eliminated exclusively by the kidneys. Thus, the estimation of the renal function especially in elderly patients is important for the treatment with fondaparinux, whereas it is contraindicated in patients with severe renal insufficiency. Phase II clinical studies have identified a subcutaneous dose of 2.5 mg once daily for prophylaxis of venous thromboembolism in patients undergoing major orthopaedic surgery. Four phase-III clinical trials using bilateral phlebography for the diagnosis of DVT, demonstrated a combined 50% relative risk reduction of asymptomatic venous thromboembolic events in orthopaedic surgery patients in comparison to the low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) enoxaparin. Hemorrhagic complications for fondaparinux were either comparable or higher than those for LMWH but the authors did not judge that the increased bleeding was clinically relevant. A dose ranging study led to the selection of the dose of 7.5 mg at a single daily subcutaneous injection as optimal for the treatment of VTE. In two phase III clinical trials, the dose of 7.5 mg/day is expected to be as efficacious and safe as heparin for the treatment of DVT or PE, respectively. Phase II studies show that the efficacy-to-safety ratio of fondaparinux in the treatment of unstable angina or as an adjunct to thrombolysis in acute myocardial infarction is promising. These results demonstrated that a single anti-Xa agent devoid of antithrombin activity is a potent antithrombotic drug. Fondaparinux has obtained FDA and European health authorities approval. Its use on a large scale will allow the evaluation of its efficacy and tolerance in the daily clinical practice. Chemical modifications of the original synthetic pentasaccharide increase the affinity to AT resulting in a more potent inhibition of FXa and longer half-life. Idraparinux is the first of these new oligosaccharides that we named "meta-pentasaccharides." After subcutaneous injection the half-life of idraparinux is about 80 h allowing a single injection per week. A dose-finding study has established the optimal dose given once a week to be compared with warfarin for the treatment of DVT.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticoagulants / pharmacokinetics
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Factor Xa Inhibitors
  • Fondaparinux
  • Humans
  • Polysaccharides / pharmacokinetics*
  • Polysaccharides / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anticoagulants
  • Factor Xa Inhibitors
  • Polysaccharides
  • Fondaparinux