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Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1991 Apr;31(4):381-90.

Disposition and metabolism of codeine after single and chronic doses in one poor and seven extensive metabolisers.

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Department of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology, University of Adelaide, Australia.


1. The pharmacokinetics, metabolism and partial clearances of codeine to morphine, norcodeine and codeine-6-glucuronide after single (30 mg) and chronic (30 mg 8 h for seven doses) administration of codeine were studied in eight subjects (seven extensive and one poor metaboliser of dextromethorphan). Codeine, codeine-6-glucuronide, morphine and norcodeine were measured by high performance liquid chromatographic assays. 2. After the single dose, the time to achieve maximum plasma codeine concentrations was 0.97 +/- 0.31 h (mean +/- s.d.) and for codeine-6-glucuronide it was 1.28 +/- 0.49 h. The plasma AUC of codeine-6-glucuronide was 15.8 +/- 4.5 times higher than that of codeine. The AUC of codeine in saliva was 3.4 +/- 1.1 times higher than that in plasma. The elimination half-life of codeine was 3.2 +/- 0.3 h and that of codeine-6-glucuronide was 3.2 +/- 0.9 h. 3. The renal clearance of codeine was 183 +/- 59 ml min-1 and was inversely correlated with urine pH (r = 0.81). These data suggest that codeine undergoes filtration at the glomerulus, tubular secretion and passive reabsorption. The renal clearance of codeine-6-glucuronide was 55 +/- 21 ml min-1, and was not correlated with urine pH. Its binding to human plasma was less than 10%. These data suggest that codeine-6-glucuronide undergoes filtration at the glomerulus and tubular reabsorption. This latter process is unlikely to be passive. 4. After chronic dosing, the pharmacokinetics of codeine and codeine-6-glucuronide were not significantly different from the single dose pharmacokinetics. 5. After the single dose, 86.1 +/- 11.4% of the dose was recovered in urine, of which 59.8 +/- 10.3% was codeine-6-glucuronide, 7.1 +/- 1.1% was total morphine, 6.9 +/- 2.1% was total norcodeine and 11.8 +/- 3.9% was unchanged codeine. These recoveries were not significantly different (P greater than 0.05) after chronic administration. 6. After the single dose, the partial clearance to morphine was 137 +/- 31 ml min-1 in the seven extensive metabolisers and 8 ml min-1 in the poor metaboliser; to norcodeine the values were 103 +/- 33 ml min-1 and 90 ml min-1; to codeine-6-glucuronide the values were 914 +/- 129 ml min-1 and 971 ml min-1; and intrinsic clearance was 1568 +/- 103 ml min-1 and 1450 ml min-1. These values were not significantly (P greater than 0.05) altered by chronic administration.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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