The absolute bioavailability of racemic ketamine from a novel sublingual formulation

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The principal study objective was to investigate the pharmacokinetic characteristics of a new sublingual ketamine wafer and to establish its absolute bioavailability and local tolerability.


The study was of open label, two way randomized crossover design in eight healthy male volunteers. Each participant received either a single 10 mg intravenous dose as a constant rate 30 min infusion or a 25 mg sublingual dose of ketamine wafer in two treatment periods with a 7 day wash out. Pharmacokinetic blood sampling and local tolerability and safety assessments were carried out during 24 h following both dosing occasions. Plasma concentrations were analyzed by non-compartmental methods and local tolerability was assessed using modified Likert scales.


The median (90% CI lower, upper limit) absolute bioavailability of sublingual ketamine was 29% (27, 31%). The first quantifiable plasma ketamine concentration was observed within 5 min for all eight participants for both routes of administration and the median (min–max) time of the peak plasma concentration was 0.75 h (0.25–1.0 h) after sublingual administration. The ketamine wafer had very good local tolerability.


Sublingual administration of the ketamine wafer resulted in rapid absorption. The ketamine wafer has comparable bioavailability with other oral transmucosal formulations of ketamine but with markedly reduced inter-subject variability, warranting further evaluation as an analgesic adjunct.

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