Desirudin (Subcutaneous Route)

1 Desirudin (Subcutaneous Route): A Summary

Brand Name:


Desirudin is a thrombin inhibitor used for the prevention of harmful blood clots that form in the blood vessels of the legs called deep venous thrombosis. These blood clots can travel to the lungs and can become lodged in the blood vessels of the lungs, causing a condition called pulmonary embolism. This drug is used for several days after hip replacement surgery, while you are unable to walk. This drug requires a prescription.

2 What to Know Before Using

Before taking this drug, the risks and benefits for your body should be discussed with your healthcare provider. Inform your healthcare provider for any allergic reactions to these drugs or any other drugs, foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. 

Carefully read the label of non-prescription drugs for any possible allergic reaction or contraindications. Studies in children regarding the relationship of age to the effects of desirudin have not been performed while safety and efficacy have not been established. 

Studies in the elderly have not demonstrated any geriatric-specific problems that would limit the utility of desirudin in the elderly. Adjustments in the dose of the elderly may be required since they are more likely to have age-related kidney problems. 

Adverse effects have been reported in animal studies but studies in pregnant women or animals are still inadequate. Infant risk is still undetermined when using this drug during breastfeeding. Discuss with your healthcare professional about the potential risks and benefits before taking this drug while breastfeeding. 

Drugs should not be taken together to prevent any interactions but in necessary cases inquire your healthcare provider regarding the adjustments in dosage or any other necessary precautions to prevent any unwanted side effects. Inform your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription and nonprescription drugs. 

Intake of specific food or using alcohol or tobacco with this drug is associated with an increased risk of certain side effects. Your healthcare professional can give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco. 

Inform your healthcare provider for any other medical problems such as Blood clotting disorders, major bleeding, Blood disease, bleeding problems, Catheter insertion in your spine, Eye problems caused by diabetes, Heart infection, Hypertension, Liver disease, Major surgery procedure, Stomach or intestinal ulcer, Stroke, Surgery, or Kidney disease.

3 Proper Usage

A trained healthcare professional will be the only one to give you this drug. This drug is injected under your skin, usually in the abdomen or thighs. Your healthcare professional will educate on how to inject this drug properly with the correct dosage at home. 

Contact your healthcare professional if you miss a dose. Store the drug in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing. Keep out of the reach of children. Dispose any outdated or expired drugs and ask your healthcare professional for the proper disposal of the drugs.

4 Precautions to Take

Regular visits should be made to your healthcare provider to track your progress and to monitor the effectiveness of the drug. Unwanted effects can be screened using blood tests. Inform your healthcare professional immediately if you have symptoms of anaphylaxis such as rash, itching, swelling of the face, tongue, and throat, trouble breathing, or chest pain after you receive this drug. 

Inform your healthcare professional if you have had an allergic reaction to similar drugs such as bivalirudin, lepirudin, AngiomaxВ®, AngioxВ®, or RefludanВ®. Desirudin may increase your chance of bleeding or bruising. This risk is higher if you have a catheter in your back for pain drug or anesthesia or if you have kidney problems. 

The risk of bleeding increases as the severity of your kidney problems increases. Check with your healthcare professional immediately if you notice any unusual bleeding or bruising, black, tarry stools, bleeding gums, blood in the urine or stools, or pinpoint red spots on your skin. You may bleed and bruise more easily while you are using this drug. 

Check with your medical healthcare professional before having any dental work done. Inform any healthcare professional or dentist who treats you knows that you are using this drug. You may need to stop using desirudin several days before having surgery or medical tests. 

Discuss with your healthcare professional before you take or discontinue other drugs. Check with your healthcare professional before you take any other prescription or nonprescription drugs, and herbal or vitamin supplements.

5 Potential Side Effects

Side effects may vary for each individual and prompt medical attention should be given if they occur. Seek advice from your healthcare professional immediately if you experience any unusual symptoms such as: 

  • bleeding gums
  • collection of blood under the skin
  • coughing up blood
  • deep, dark purple bruise
  • difficulty with breathing or swallowing
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • increased menstrual flow or vaginal bleeding
  • itching, pain, redness, or swelling, nosebleeds
  • paralysis
  • prolonged bleeding from cuts red or black, tarry stools
  • red or dark brown urine
  • shortness of breath
  • changes in skin color
  • pain, tenderness, or swelling of the foot or leg
  • cough
  • fast heartbeat
  • hives
  • pale skin
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • skin rash
  • tightness in the chest
  • troubled breathing with exertion
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • wheezing
  • wound secretion
  • blood in the urine
  • blurred vision
  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting positio
  •  fever
  • severe or sudden headache
  • sudden loss of coordination
  • sudden slurring of speech 
  • sweating
  • tenderness, pain, swelling, warmth, skin discoloration
  • prominent superficial veins over affected area
  • trouble healing, or vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the drug, the side effects will slowly disappear. Ask your healthcare professional about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. 

If any of the following side effects persists, or are inconvenient, or if you notice any other effects, or if you have any questions about them, consult with your health care professional. Report any side effects to the FDA hotline at 1-800-FDA-1088.