Quetiapine is a dibenzothiazepine derivative that has been evaluated for management of patients with the manifestations of psychotic disorders. In pharmacokinetic studies in humans, quetiapine was rapidly absorbed after oral administration, with median time to reach maximum observed plasma concentration ranging from 1 to 2 hours. The absolute bioavailability is unknown, but the relative bioavailability from orally administered tablets compared with a solution was nearly complete.
Food has minimal effects on quetiapine absorption. The drug is approximately 83% bound to serum proteins. Single and multiple dose studies have demonstrated linear pharmacokinetics in the clinical dose range (up to 375mg twice daily). The drug is eliminated with a mean terminal half-life of approximately 7 hours.
The primary route of elimination is through hepatic metabolism. In vitro studies show that quetiapine is predominantly metabolised by cytochrome P450 (CYP) 3A4. After administration of [14C]quetiapine, approximately 73% of the radioactivity was excreted in the urine and 21% in faeces. Quetiapine accounted for less than 1% of the excreted radioactivity. 11 metabolites formed through hepatic oxidation have been identified. Two were found to be pharmacologically active, but they circulate in plasma at 2 to 12% of the concentration of quetiapine and are unlikely to contribute substantially to the pharmacological effects of the drug.
The pharmacokinetics of quetiapine do not appear to be altered by cigarette smoking. Oral clearance declines with age, and was reduced in 2 of 8 patients with hepatic dysfunction but not in patients with renal impairment.
Quetiapine has no effect on the in vitro activity of CYP1A2, 2C9, 2C19, 2D6 and 3A4 at clinically relevant concentrations. The lack of effect of quetiapine on hepatic oxidation was confirmed in vivo by the lack of effect of quetiapine on antipyrine disposition. Quetiapine had no effect on serum lithium concentration. Phenytoin and thioridazine increase the clearance of quetiapine, and ketoconazole decreases clearance. No clinically significant effects of cimetidine, haloperidol, risperidone or imipramine on the pharmacokinetics of quetiapine were noted. Quetiapine dosage adjustment, therefore, may be necessary when coadministered with phenytoin, thioridazine or other potent CYP3A4 inducers or inhibitors.
The relationship between the therapeutic effects and the plasma concentrations of quetiapine has been investigated in a multicentre clinical trial. There was no statistically significant association between trough plasma quetiapine concentration and clinical response as measured by traditional assessments of psychotic symptom severity. Subsequent clinical studies of the plasma concentration versus effect relationships for quetiapine may help to further define guidelines for dosage regimen design.