, Volume 59, Issue 8-9, pp 631-636
Date: 17 Oct 2003

A replicate study design for testing bioequivalence: a case study on two desmopressin nasal spray preparations

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The present study was carried out to test bioequivalence between two different desmopressin nasal spray preparations. Due to the high variability of plasma pharmacokinetics of intranasally administered peptides like desmopressin, appropriate study designs are required to assess bioequivalence. Therefore, a single-dose, replicate study design was used to evaluate bioequivalence of two desmopressin nasal sprays.

Subjects and methods

Thirty-two healthy male volunteers were enrolled in the study and were randomly assigned to receive the test- and reference drug on two occasions in a 4-period 2-sequence crossover study design. Subjects received a single dose of 20 µg (10 µg per nostril) of desmopressin-acetate per study day separated by wash-out periods of at least 1 week. Desmopressin blood concentrations were measured serially over a 14-h period using a validated radioimmunoassay method. Statistical analysis was initially performed using a complicated mixed-analysis model testing for individual bioequivalence according to recommendations by the Food and Drug Administration. This approach, however, failed to converge with all defined main PK parameters and, thus, a traditional mixed analysis of variance analysis based on population averages was definitely used for testing bioequivalence between study drugs. The procedure of selecting an appropriate statistical analysis for a replicate study design was predefined in the study protocol.


The 90% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated for the area under the time–concentration curve (AUC), maximum concentration (Cmax) and the time to reach Cmax (tmax) of test/reference drug ratios for a bioequivalence range from 0.80–1.25. The mean test/reference drug ratios were completely within the 90% CIs with values of 1.041 (CI: 0.892–1.216), 1.021 (CI: 0.913–1.140) and 1.068 (CI: 0.914–1.249) for AUC0–14 h, Cmax and tmax, respectively.


The rate and the extent of intranasal desmopressin absorption are identical for both study preparations. Thus, the desmopressin test preparation met all equivalence criteria and thereby was proven bioequivalent with a marketed reference nasal desmopressin spray.