The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved an injection to treat severe frostbite in adults to reduce the risk of finger or toe amputation.

Iloprost, approved in 2004 for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension, contains the active ingredient in Aurlumyn that opens blood vessels and prevents blood from clotting.

Frostbite can occur in several stages, ranging from mild frostbite that does not require medical intervention and does not cause permanent skin damage, to severe frostbite when both the skin and underlying tissue are frozen and blood flow is stopped, sometimes requiring amputation.

In a test involving 47 adults with severe frostbite, Iloprost was administered intravenously to one group for 6 hours daily for up to 8 days. The 16 subjects in the group receiving Iloprost did not need extremity amputation.

The most common side effects of Aurlumyn include headache, flushing, heart palpitations, fast heart rate, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and hypotension (blood pressure that is too low). Aurlumyn also has a warning and precautions noting that it may cause symptomatic hypotension.