Warfarin is clinically the most widely used oral anticoagulant and its properties have been extensively studied. Assay methods for these compounds have until recently been relatively non-specific. The advent of chromatographically based techniques has enabled a re-evaluation of the pharmacokinetics of oral anticoagulants, but most work continues to involve warfarin. The most important recent work has concerned the different anticoagulant potencies and metabolic pathways of the optical isomers of some of these drugs.
The effects of age and some diseases on pharmacokinetics of warfarin have been examined but much remains to be done, especially with oral anticoagulants other than warfarin.
There are several well established pharmacokinetic drug interactions with warfarin. There is a wide awareness of the drugs most likely to reduce anticoagulant effects by enzyme induction and alternative drugs can be used. Mechanisms of some interactions have been re-investigated. In vivo drug displacement interactions are complicated by the correlation between hepatic clearance of these drugs and the size of the unbound fraction in plasma. The interactions between phenylbutazone and warfarin and metronidazole and warfarin, resulting in potentiation of anticoagulant effect have been suggested to be due mainly to an inhibition of the metabolism of the more potent S isomer of warfarin.