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01.10.2010 | Original Research Article | Ausgabe 10/2010

Clinical Pharmacokinetics 10/2010

Population Pharmacokinetics of Tapentadol Immediate Release (IR) in Healthy Subjects and Patients with Moderate or Severe Pain

Clinical Pharmacokinetics > Ausgabe 10/2010
Dr Xu Steven Xu, Johan W. Smit, Rachel Lin, Kim Stuyckens, Rolf Terlinden, Partha Nandy



Tapentadol is a new, centrally active analgesic agent with two modes of action — ώ, opioid receptor agonism and norepinephrine reuptake inhibition — and the immediate-release (IR) formulation is approved in the US for the relief of moderate to severe acute pain. The aims of this analysis were to develop a population pharmacokinetic model to facilitate the understanding of the pharmacokinetics of tapentadol IR in healthy subjects and patients following single and multiple dosing, and to identify covariates that might explain variability in exposure following oral administration.


The analysis included pooled data from 11 385 serum pharmacokinetic samples from 1827 healthy subjects and patients with moderate to severe pain. Population pharmacokinetic modelling was conducted using nonlinear mixed-effects modelling (NONMEM®) software to estimate population pharmacokinetic parameters and the influence of the subjects’ demographic characteristics, clinical laboratory chemistry values and disease status on these parameters. Simulations were performed to assess the clinical relevance of the covariate effects on tapentadol exposure.


A two-compartment model with zero-order release followed by first-order absorption and first-order elimination best described the pharmacokinetics of tapentadol IR following oral administration. The interindividual variability (coefficient of variation) in apparent oral clearance (CL/F) and the apparent central volume of distribution after oral administration were 30% and 29%, respectively. An additive error model was used to describe the residual variability in the log-transformed data, and the standard deviation values were 0.308 and 0.314 for intensively and sparsely sampled data, respectively. Covariate analysis showed that sex, age, bodyweight, race, body fat, hepatic function (using total bilirubin and total protein as surrogate markers), health status and creatinine clearance were statistically significant factors influencing the pharmacokinetics of tapentadol. Total bilirubin was a particularly important factor that influenced CL/F, which decreased by more than 60% in subjects with total bilirubin greater than 50 ώmol/L.


The population pharmacokinetic model for tapentadol IR identified the relationship between pharmacokinetic parameters and a wide range of covariates. The simulations of tapentadol exposure with identified, statistically significant covariates demonstrated that only hepatic function (as characterized by total bilirubin and total protein) may be considered a clinically relevant factor that warrants dose adjustment. None of the other covariates are of clinical relevance, nor do they necessitate dose adjustment.

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