alirocumab (Praluent)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

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What is alirocumab, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Alirocumab is a man-made injectable drug that reduces cholesterol levels in the blood. It is the first member of a new class of drugs called proprotein convertase subtilisin kexin type 9 (PCSK9) inhibitors. Cholesterol is carried in the blood to a large extent by particles of low density lipoproteins that are removed from the blood by liver cells. The particles are removed from the blood by low-density lipoprotein receptors (LDLR) on liver cells. PCSK9 is a protein on liver cells that promotes the destruction of LDLR. Therefore, a decrease in LDLR levels by PCSK9 results in higher blood levels of LDL cholesterol.

Alirocumab is an antibody, which means that it is a protein that binds to another protein and inactivates it. Alirocumab binds to the PCSK9 protein and prevents it from destroying LDLR. By inhibiting PCSK9, Alirocumab increases the number of LDLRs available to remove LDL cholesterol and consequently reduces LDL cholesterol levels in blood. The FDA approved alirocumab in July 2015.

What brand names are available for alirocumab?

Praluent

Is alirocumab available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: No

Do I need a prescription for alirocumab?

Yes

What are the side effects of alirocumab?

The most common side effects associated with alirocumab treatment include

  • injection site reactions,
  • symptoms of the common cold, and
  • flu-like symptoms.

Other side effects include

Liver problems were reported in 2.5% of patients treated with alirocumab compared to 1.8% in patients treated with placebo.

Quick GuideLower Your Cholesterol, Save Your Heart

Lower Your Cholesterol, Save Your Heart

What is the dosage for alirocumab?

The recommended starting dose of alirocumab is 75 mg via subcutaneous injection (into the fat layer underneath the skin) every 2 weeks. If the LDL cholesterol lowering response is not adequate with this starting dose, the dosage may be increased to a maximum dosage of 150 mg every 2 weeks. LDL cholesterol levels should be measured within 4 to 8 weeks of starting therapy to assess response to treatment, and a decision should be made whether or not to adjust the dose.

Alirocumab should only be injected by subcutaneous injection into the thigh, abdomen, or upper arm. Injection sites should be rotated with each injection to prevent or reduce injection site reactions and irritation. Alirocumab should not be co-administered with other injectable drugs at the same injection site.

Which drugs or supplements interact with alirocumab?

: No clinically significant drug-drug interactions are listed for alirocumab.

Is alirocumab safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?

There is no data on the use of alirocumab in pregnant women.

It is not known if alirocumab can enter human milk or cause harm to the nursing infant.

What else should I know about alirocumab?

What preparations of alirocumab are available?

Single dose pre-filled pens and single-dose pre-filled glass syringes, each designed to deliver 1 ml of 75 mg/ml or 150 mg/ml.

How should I keep alirocumab stored?

Alirocumab should be stored in the refrigerator at 2 C to 8 C (36 F to 46 F) and protected from light and extreme heat. It should not be frozen.

REFERENCE: FDA Prescribing Information

Last Editorial Review: 8/14/2015

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Reviewed on 8/14/2015
References
REFERENCE: FDA Prescribing Information

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