An enantiopure drug is a pharmaceutical that is available in one specific enantiomeric form. Most biological molecules (proteins, sugars, etc.) are present in only one of many chiral forms, so different enantiomers of a chiral drug molecule bind differently (or not at all) to target receptors. One enantiomer of a drug may have a desired beneficial effect while the other may cause serious and undesired side effects, or sometimes even beneficial but entirely different effects. Advances in industrial chemical processes have made it economical for pharmaceutical manufacturers to take drugs that were originally marketed as a racemic mixture and market the individual enantiomers, either by specifically manufacturing the desired enantiomer or by resolving a racemic mixture. On a case-by-case basis, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allowed single enantiomers of certain drugs to be marketed under a different name than the racemic mixture. Also case-by-case, the United States Patent Office has granted patents for single enantiomers of certain drugs. The regulatory review for marketing approval (safety and efficacy) and for patenting (proprietary rights) is independent, and differs country by country.
The following table lists pharmaceuticals that have been available in both racemic and single-enantiomer form.
A dopamine agonist is a compound that activates dopamine receptors in the absence of dopamine. Dopamine agonists activate signaling pathways through the dopamine receptor and trimeric G-proteins, ultimately leading to changes in gene transcription.