Drug Interactions with Phenytoin

Emilio Perucca, Alan Richens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drug interactions with phenytoin are a frequent occurrence, although their clinical relevance has often been overemphasised. Probably the most important of such interactions are those resulting in inhibition of phenytoin metabolism; due to the satumble nature of phenytoin biotransformation even minor degrees of inhibition can produce disproportionate changes in both steady-state serum concentration and the magnitude of pharmacological effect. Phenytoin has marked enzyme-inducing properties and can stimulate the metabolism of many concurrently administered drugs, thereby reducing their therapeutic efficacy. Clinically important examples of such interactions include a reduction of the anticoagulant effect of dicoumarol, a decrease in the prophylactic efficacy of the contraceptive pill and failure of response to various corticosteroid agents when administered therapeutically or diagnostically. Unless complicated by additional mechanisms, plasma protein binding interactions with phenytoin are seldom of clinical significance. However, they may alter considerably the relationship between serum drug concentration and clinical response, a possibility which needs to be taken into account when interpreting serum phenytoin levels in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-137
Number of pages18
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Toxicology


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