Intravenous Veletri (epoprostenol) injections could help treat Raynaud’s syndrome, a literature review published in the journal Annals of Pharmacotherapy has shown.
In addition, according to the study, patients who do not respond to sporadic infusions and who have severe restriction of blood flow to their fingers may require more aggressive regimens of the drug.
Epoprostenol is a type of prostaglandin, a physiologically active fat compound which has several hormone-like effects. It is an effective drug for dilating blood vessels and preventing the formation of platelets involved in blood clot formation, and is used for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension, marketed under the brand name Veletri.
In the study “Evidence for the Use of Epoprostenol to Treat Raynaud’s Phenomenon With or Without Digital Ulcers,” a team of researchers led by Dr. Evelyn Hermes-DeSantis, a clinical professor at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers University in New Jersey and the director of Drug Information Services at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, searched the medical literature for all the studies published from 1946 and 2016 where epoprostenol was used for the treatment of Raynaud’s syndrome.
The team identified seven small, uncontrolled studies, one small placebo-controlled study, and one larger randomized clinical trial evaluating the use of the drug for the management or treatment of Raynaud’s syndrome.
Although there was no consistent measurement of the effectiveness of epoprostenol among the studies, the results of five clinical trials have shown that Veletri injection improved hand temperature and lessened the duration and frequency of the attacks.
There were conflicting results between studies about the long-term effects of the treatment, with five trials showing long-term effects and three trials showing immediate effects.
One trial showed that fewer ulcers linked to the restriction of blood flow to the fingers developed during treatment with Veletri compared to conventional treatment, and ulcer healing was reported in two trials.
Common side effects associated with the use of epoprostenol included low blood pressure, headache, flushing, gastrointestinal symptoms, and jaw pain.
The authors concluded that the evidence supports the use of epoprostenol injections to treat severe Raynaud’s syndrome in patients who do not respond to or who are intolerant to standard therapies.