ARGATROBAN (Page 4 of 6)


Argatroban is a synthetic direct thrombin inhibitor and the chemical name is 1-[5-[(aminoiminomethyl)amino]‑ 1-oxo-2-[[(1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-3-methyl-8-quinolinyl)sulfonyl]amino]pentyl]-4-methyl-2-piperidinecarboxylic acid, monohydrate. Argatroban has 4 asymmetric carbons. One of the asymmetric carbons has an R configuration (stereoisomer Type I) and an S configuration (stereoisomer Type II). Argatroban consists of a mixture of R and S stereoisomers at a ratio of approximately 65:35.

The molecular formula of argatroban is C23 H36 N6 O5 S∙H2 O. Its molecular weight is 526.66 g/mol. The structural formula is:

Chemical Structure
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Argatroban is a white, odorless crystalline powder that is freely soluble in glacial acetic acid, slightly soluble in ethanol, and insoluble in acetone, ethyl acetate, and ether.

Argatroban Injection is a sterile clear, colorless to pale yellow, slightly viscous solution in a single-use amber vial containing 250 mg/2.5 mL of argatroban. Each mL of sterile, nonpyrogenic solution contains 100 mg argatroban, 300 mg D-sorbitol, and 400 mg dehydrated alcohol in water for injection.


12.1 Mechanism of Action

Argatroban is a direct thrombin inhibitor that reversibly binds to the thrombin active site. Argatroban does not require the co-factor antithrombin III for antithrombotic activity. Argatroban exerts its anticoagulant effects by inhibiting thrombin-catalyzed or -induced reactions, including fibrin formation; activation of coagulation factors V, VIII, and XIII; activation of protein C; and platelet aggregation.

Argatroban inhibits thrombin with an inhibition constant (Ki) of 0.04 μM. At therapeutic concentrations, argatroban has little or no effect on related serine proteases (trypsin, factor Xa, plasmin, and kallikrein).

Argatroban is capable of inhibiting the action of both free and clot-associated thrombin.

12.2 Pharmacodynamics

When argatroban is administered by continuous infusion, anticoagulant effects and plasma concentrations of argatroban follow similar, predictable temporal response profiles, with low intersubject variability. Immediately upon initiation of argatroban infusion, anticoagulant effects are produced as plasma argatroban concentrations begin to rise. Steady-state levels of both drug and anticoagulant effect are typically attained within 1 to 3 hours and are maintained until the infusion is discontinued or the dosage adjusted. Steady-state plasma argatroban concentrations increase proportionally with dose (for infusion doses up to 40 mcg/kg/min in healthy subjects) and are well correlated with steady-state anticoagulant effects. For infusion doses up to 40 mcg/kg/min, argatroban increases in a dose-dependent fashion, the aPTT, the ACT, the prothrombin time (PT), the International Normalized Ratio (INR), and the thrombin time (TT) in healthy volunteers and cardiac patients. Representative steady-state plasma argatroban concentrations and anticoagulant effects are shown below for argatroban infusion doses up to 10 mcg/kg/min (see Figure 1).

Figure 1.
Relationship at Steady State between Argatroban Dose, Plasma Argatroban
Concentration and Anticoagulant Effect
Figure 1
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Effect on International Normalized Ratio (INR): Because argatroban is a direct thrombin inhibitor, co- administration of argatroban and warfarin produces a combined effect on the laboratory measurement of the INR. However, concurrent therapy, compared to warfarin monotherapy, exerts no additional effect on vitamin K–dependent factor Xa activity.

The relationship between INR on co-therapy and warfarin alone is dependent on both the dose of argatroban and the thromboplastin reagent used. This relationship is influenced by the International Sensitivity Index (ISI) of the thromboplastin. Data for 2 commonly utilized thromboplastins with ISI values of 0.88 (Innovin, Dade) and 1.78 (Thromboplastin C Plus, Dade) are presented in Figure 2 for an argatroban dose of 2 mcg/kg/min. Thromboplastins with higher ISI values than shown result in higher INRs on combined therapy of warfarin and argatroban. These data are based on results obtained in normal individuals [see Drug Interactions (7.2), Dosage and Administration (2.5)].

Figure 2.
INR Relationship of Argatroban plus Warfarin versus Warfarin Alone
Figure 2
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Figure 2 demonstrates the relationship between INR for warfarin alone and INR for warfarin coadministered with argatroban at a dose of 2 mcg/kg/min. To calculate INR for warfarin alone (INRW ), based on INR for co-therapy of warfarin and argatroban (INRWA ), when the argatroban dose is 2 mcg/kg/min, use the equation next to the appropriate curve. Example: At a dose of 2 mcg/kg/min and an INR performed with Thromboplastin A, the equation 0.19 + 0.57 (INRWA ) = INRW would allow a prediction of the INR on warfarin alone (INRW ). Thus, using an INRWA value of 4.0 obtained on combined therapy: INRW = 0.19 + 0.57 (4) = 2.47 as the value for INR on warfarin alone. The error (confidence interval) associated with a prediction is ± 0.4 units. Similar linear relationships and prediction errors exist for argatroban at a dose of 1 mcg/kg/min. Thus, for argatroban doses of 1 or 2 mcg/kg/min, INRW can be predicted from INRWA . For argatroban doses greater than 2 mcg/kg/min, the error associated with predicting INRW from INRWA is ± 1. Thus, INRW cannot be reliably predicted from INRWA at doses greater than 2 mcg/kg/min.

12.3 Pharmacokinetics


Argatroban distributes mainly in the extra cellular fluid as evidenced by an apparent steady-state volume of distribution of 174 mL/kg (12.18 L in a 70 kg adult). Argatroban is 54% bound to human serum proteins, with binding to albumin and α1 -acid glycoprotein being 20% and 34%, respectively.


The main route of argatroban metabolism is hydroxylation and aromatization of the 3-methyltetrahydroquinoline ring in the liver. The formation of each of the 4 known metabolites is catalyzed in vitro by the human liver microsomal cytochrome P450 enzymes CYP3A4/5. The primary metabolite (M1) exerts 3- to 5-fold weaker anticoagulant effects than argatroban. Unchanged argatroban is the major component in plasma. The plasma concentrations of M1 range between 0% and 20% of that of the parent drug. The other metabolites (M2 to M4) are found only in very low quantities in the urine and have not been detected in plasma or feces. These data, together with the lack of effect of erythromycin (a potent CYP3A4/5 inhibitor) on argatroban pharmacokinetics, suggest that CYP3A4/5-mediated metabolism is not an important elimination pathway in vivo.

Total body clearance is approximately 5.1 mL/kg/min (0.31 L/kg/hr) for infusion doses up to 40 mcg/kg/min. The terminal elimination half-life of argatroban ranges between 39 and 51 minutes.

There is no interconversion of the 21–(R):21–(S) diastereoisomers. The plasma ratio of these diastereoisomers is unchanged by metabolism or hepatic impairment, remaining constant at 65:35 (± 2%).


Argatroban is excreted primarily in the feces, presumably through biliary secretion. In a study in which 14 C‑ argatroban (5 mcg/kg/min) was infused for 4 hours into healthy subjects, approximately 65% of the radioactivity was recovered in the feces within 6 days of the start of infusion with little or no radioactivity subsequently detected. Approximately 22% of the radioactivity appeared in the urine within 12 hours of the start of infusion. Little or no additional urinary radioactivity was subsequently detected. Average percent recovery of unchanged drug, relative to total dose, was 16% in urine and at least 14% in feces.

Special Populations:

Hepatic Impairment: The dosage of argatroban should be decreased in patients with hepatic impairment [see Dosage and Administration (2.3) and Warnings and Precautions (5.2)]. Patients with hepatic impairment were not studied in percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) trials. At a dose of 2.5 mcg/kg/min, hepatic impairment is associated with decreased clearance and increased elimination half-life of argatroban (to 1.9 mL/kg/min and 181 minutes, respectively, for patients with a Child-Pugh score greater than 6).

Renal Impairment: No dosage adjustment is necessary in patients with renal dysfunction. The effect of renal disease on the pharmacokinetics of argatroban was studied in 6 subjects with normal renal function (mean Clcr = 95 ± 16 mL/min) and in 18 subjects with mild (mean Clcr = 64±10 mL/min), moderate (mean Clcr = 41 ± 5.8 mL/min), and severe (mean Clcr = 5 ± 7 mL/min) renal impairment. The pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of argatroban at dosages up to 5 mcg/kg/min were not significantly affected by renal dysfunction.

Use of argatroban was evaluated in a study of 12 patients with stable end-stage renal disease undergoing chronic intermittent hemodialysis. Argatroban was administered at a rate of 2 to 3 mcg/kg/min (begun at least 4 hours prior to dialysis) or as a bolus dose of 250 mcg/kg at the start of dialysis followed by a continuous infusion of 2 mcg/kg/min. Although these regimens did not achieve the goal of maintaining ACT values at 1.8 times the baseline value throughout most of the hemodialysis period, the hemodialysis sessions were successfully completed with both of these regimens. The mean ACTs produced in this study ranged from 1.39 to 1.82 times baseline, and the mean aPTTs ranged from 1.96 to 3.4 times baseline. When argatroban was administered as a continuous infusion of 2 mcg/kg/min prior to and during a 4-hour hemodialysis session, approximately 20% was cleared through dialysis.

Age, Gender: There are no clinically significant effects of age or gender on the pharmacokinetics or pharmacodynamics (e.g., aPTT) of argatroban in adults.

Drug-Drug Interactions:

Digoxin: In 12 healthy volunteers, intravenous infusion of argatroban (2 mcg/kg/min) over 5 days (study days 11 to 15) did not affect the steady-state pharmacokinetics of oral digoxin (0.375 mg daily for 15 days).

Erythromycin: In 10 healthy subjects, orally administered erythromycin (a potent inhibitor of CYP3A4/5) at 500 mg four times daily for 7 days had no effect on the pharmacokinetics of argatroban at a dose of 1 mcg/kg/min for 5 hours. These data suggest oxidative metabolism by CYP3A4/5 is not an important elimination pathway in vivo for argatroban.

Aspirin and Acetaminophen: Drug-drug interactions have not been demonstrated between argatroban and concomitantly administered aspirin (162.5 mg orally given 26 and 2 hours prior to initiation of argatroban 1 mcg/kg/min over 4 hours) or acetaminophen (1,000 mg orally given 12, 6, and 0 hours prior to, and 6 and 12 hours subsequent to, initiation of argatroban 1.5 mcg/kg/min over 18 hours).

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