To study the pharmacokinetics and bioavailability of the prodrug bambuterol and its bronchodilator moiety terbutaline in healthy subjects.Methods
Eight healthy subjects (four women) received intravenous doses of bambuterol and terbutaline. On a third occasion, they, plus another four subjects, ingested oral bambuterol as a single dose followed by repeated doses once daily for 7 days. Plasma concentrations and urinary excretion of bambuterol and terbutaline were measured.Results
After intravenous administration, renal clearances of bambuterol and terbutaline were similar (about 140 ml min−1), but there was a five-fold difference in total clearance (bambuterol 1.25 l min−1, terbutaline 0.23 l min−1). Volume of distribution (Vss) was 1.6 l kg−1 b.w. for both substances. A similar renal clearance of bambuterol was found during oral administration but that of terbutaline decreased (to about 120 ml min−1). Mean terminal half-life of bambuterol was 2.6 h after intravenous and 12 h after oral administration, implying that uptake was ratelimiting. Mean residence time of terbutaline generated from oral bambuterol was 34 h compared with 8.0 h when terbutaline as such was infused. Generated terbutaline had a bioavailability of 36% (28-46) after intravenous and 10.2% (6.1-13.2) after oral administration of the prodrug. Bambuterol was well tolerated. The mean activity of plasma cholinesterase, an enzyme catalyzing bambuterol metabolism, was inhibited between 30-60% during repeated oral dosing. It virtually regained original activity within 48 h after the last dose.Conclusions
The plasma concentration of terbutaline fluctuated little during repeated oral administration (mean peak: trough ratio 1.9), as a result of prolonged absorption of bambuterol and slow formation of terbutaline. Thus, the pharmacokinetic properties of bambuterol make it suitable for oral once-daily dosage.