Active Drug Metabolites: An Overview of their Relevance in Clinical Pharmacokinetics

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This review underlines the importance of considering in the overall evaluation of drug effect and efficacy not only the kinetics and activities of the administered drug, but also those of the chemical species (metabolites) which are formed in the body. The circumstances in which a role for active drug metabolites may be suspected are described, and a number of specific examples are given. Four different categories are described: drugs which are inactive precursors of active metabolites (e.g. DOPA and cyclophosphamide); active metabolites which contribute to the duration of action of the parent compound (e.g. hexamethylmelamine and clobazam); active metabolites showing a mechanism of action different from that of the parent compound (e.g. buspirone and 1-pyrimidinyl piperazine; fenfluramine and norfenfluramine); and active metabolites showing an antagonistic effect on the activity of the parent drug (e.g. trazodone and m-chlorophenyl-piperazine; aspirin and salicylate).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-227
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Pharmacokinetics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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