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Clin Pharmacokinet. 1997 Jan;32(1):75-89.

Bioequivalence of controlled-release calcium antagonists.

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FARMOVS Research Centre for Clinical Pharmacology and Drug Development, Department of Pharmacology, University of the Orange Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa. GNFMRS@FRM.UOVS.AC.ZA


In this review, several deficiencies of published bioequivalence studies for controlled-release calcium antagonists have become apparent. As a consequence, some of the published conclusions based on such studies must be viewed with care. A proper statistical analysis of bioequivalence is not frequently reported. A proper statistical analysis of the pharmacokinetic variables involves the calculation of 90% confidence intervals (CI) for the test: reference ratio of the means of the pharmacokinetic variables of the test and reference product. The CI must fall completely within the predetermined bioequivalence range (usually 0.8 to 1.25) for the products to be declared bioequivalent. Serious methodological errors, such as a conclusion of bioequivalence based on a lack of statistically significant difference between products, and conversely, a conclusion of bioequivalence because of a statistically significant difference, or because of a mere failure to show bioequivalence, are still made. With calcium antagonists in particular, an assessment of the rate of absorption and of the maximum concentration is important, as those characteristics may have implications for the safety profile with this class of drugs. As a minimum, in single doses studies the maximum concentration (Cmax), and the time to the maximum concentration (tmax), and in multiple-dose studies the Cmax, and the peak-trough fluctuation (%PTF) must be considered. Some bioequivalence studies of calcium antagonists are deficient in this respect. To show bioequivalence for controlled-release formulations, multiple-dose studies are required but some published bioequivalence studies contain only single-dose assessments. Similarly, bioequivalence studies under fed conditions are rarely published, although food may have a significant effect on the absorption rate of these drugs. Some calcium antagonists, such as verpamil, show stereo-selective pharmacokinetics, so that enantiomers may have to be investigated. Unfortunately, few of the published studies of controlled-release calcium antagonists satisfy all requirements. One would expect that data submitted to regulatory authorities for approval of generic formulations are more complete; published data are in many cases not satisfactory.

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