Tirofiban. A review of its use in acute coronary syndromes

Drugs. 1998 Dec;56(6):1067-80. doi: 10.2165/00003495-199856060-00017.


Tirofiban is an intravenously administered nonpeptide glycoprotein IIb/IIIa receptor antagonist which specifically inhibits fibrinogen-dependent platelet aggregation and prolongs bleeding times in patients with acute coronary syndromes. Adenosine diphosphate (ADP)-induced platelet aggregation returns to near-baseline levels within 4 to 8 hours after cessation of a tirofiban infusion, a finding consistent with the drug's elimination half-life of approximately 2 hours. Three large clinical trials have shown that, when administered with a standard heparin and aspirin regimen, tirofiban reduces the risk of ischaemic complications in patients with unstable angina/non-Q-wave myocardial infarction (MI) and in patients undergoing percutaneous revascularisation. In PRISM-PLUS, a study involving 1915 patients with unstable angina/non-Q-wave MI, administration of intravenous tirofiban (0.4 microgram/kg/min loading dose for 30 minutes followed by a 0.10 microgram/kg/min infusion) with heparin for at least 48 (mean 71.3) hours reduced the 7-day risk of the composite end-point of MI, death and refractory ischaemia by 32% compared with heparin alone. The between-group risk reduction remained significant at 30 days (22%) and 6 months (19%). Similarly, in high-risk patients undergoing coronary angioplasty in RESTORE, the addition of tirofiban (10 micrograms/kg bolus in the 3 minutes prior to intervention followed by 0.15 microgram/kg/min for 36 hours) to a standard heparin regimen significantly reduced the risk of ischaemic complications by 38% on day 2 and 27% on day 7 compared with heparin alone. Although interim analysis in PRISM-PLUS showed that the use of tirofiban without heparin increased the 7-day risk of death compared with heparin alone, this finding was inconsistent with the effects of tirofiban on the risk of death in PRISM, a study involving 3232 patients with unstable angina/non-Q-wave MI. Tirofiban is generally well tolerated. Bleeding complications were the most commonly reported events associated with tirofiban in clinical trials, but the rate of major bleeding in tirofiban recipients was not significantly different from that reported with heparin. Thrombocytopenia (platelet count < 90,000 cells/microliter) occurred slightly more frequently with tirofiban (with or without heparin) than with heparin alone.

Conclusions: Tirofiban reduces the risk of ischaemic complications in patients with unstable angina/non-Q-wave MI and high-risk patients undergoing revascularisation when used against a background of heparin and aspirin. Furthermore, the drug has an acceptable tolerability profile. Therefore, intravenous tirofiban is likely to be used as an adjunct to heparin and aspirin in patients with acute coronary syndromes including high-risk patients undergoing revascularisation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Coronary Disease / drug therapy*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Tirofiban
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Tyrosine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Tyrosine / metabolism
  • Tyrosine / pharmacology
  • Tyrosine / therapeutic use


  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors
  • Tyrosine
  • Tirofiban