Journal of Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics

, Volume 37, Issue 6, pp 617–628 | Cite as

Quantitative clinical pharmacology is transforming drug regulation

  • Carl C. PeckEmail author


Prior to 1970s, development and regulation of new drugs was devoid of a fully quantitative, pathophysiological conceptual foundation. Malcolm Rowland pioneered, in collaboration with colleagues and friends, our modern understanding of drug clearance concepts, and equipped drug development and regulatory scientists with key investigative tools such as physiologically-based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) modeling, standardized approaches to characterizing drug metabolism, and microdosing. From the 1970s to the present, Malcolm Rowland has contributed to key advances in pharmacokinetics that have had transformational impacts on drug regulatory science. These advances include concepts that have led to the fundamental understanding that mechanistically derived, quantitative variations in drug concentrations, rather than assigned dosage alone, drive pharmacodynamic effects (PKPD)—including disease biomarkers and clinical outcomes. This body of knowledge has transformed drug development and regulatory science theory and practice from naïve empiricism to a mechanism/model-based, quantitative scientific discipline. As a result, it is now possible to incorporate pre-clinical in vitro data on drug physico-chemical properties, metabolizing enzymes, transporters and permeability properties into PBPK-based simulations of expected PK distributions and drug–drug interactions in human populations. The most comprehensive application of PK-PD is in the modeling and simulation of clinical trials in the context of model-based drug development and regulation, imbedded in the “learn-confirm paradigm”. Regulatory agencies have embraced these advances and incorporated them into regulatory requirements, approval acceleration pathways and regulatory decisions. These developments are reviewed here, with emphasis on key contributions of Malcolm Rowland that facilitated this transformation.


Quantitative clinical pharmacology Drug development Drug regulation Regulatory science 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, Center for Drug Development Science, Schools of Pharmacy and MedicineUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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