A Simultaneous Mixed-Effects Pharmacokinetic Model for Nefopam, N-desmethylnefopam, and Nefopam N-Oxide in Human Plasma and Urine

  • Aravind MitturEmail author
Original Research Article


Background and Objective

Nefopam is a non-opioid, non-steroidal, central analgesic thought to act via multiple mechanisms including potent inhibition of serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake and modulation of voltage-sensitive calcium and sodium channels. There has been a resurgence in its use for postoperative pain and neuropathic pain. Dosing route-dependent metabolism and clinical effects have been described following intravenous and oral nefopam. N-desmethylnefopam and nefopam N-oxide are metabolites of clinical interest. We sought to develop a joint pharmacokinetic model to simultaneously describe the plasma and urinary pharmacokinetics of nefopam and the two metabolites following an oral pharmacological dose of [14C]-nefopam to healthy volunteers, and to estimate inter-individual variability in their pharmacokinetics.


Pharmacokinetic data for the parent and metabolites were analyzed simultaneously using NONMEM® (nonlinear mixed-effect modeling) v7.3. The modeling process evaluated, in part, one- and two-compartment linear pharmacokinetic models for nefopam and a single compartment for each of the two metabolites. Pathways for presystemic metabolism of both metabolites were explored.


The final structural model simultaneously described the plasma and urinary pharmacokinetics of nefopam and the two metabolites. It consists of a central compartment for nefopam and for each of the two metabolites, as well as a peripheral compartment for the parent, and the associated urine compartments. The rapid formation and appearance of the N-oxide in plasma, characterized by concentrations that peak earlier than the parent, could be described by presystemic formation in the gastrointestinal tract.


A descriptive, robust and predictive parent–metabolite model has been developed using a population mixed-effects approach to characterize the pharmacokinetics of nefopam and its metabolites simultaneously in healthy subjects following oral administration of nefopam. The model may be used for dose selection, analysis of sparse data, identification of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, and to model the clinical effects of each analyte.


Compliance with Ethical Standards


This work was supported by Impax Specialty Pharma, a Division of Impax Laboratories, Inc.

Conflict of interest

Aravind Mittur is an employee of Impax Laboratories, Inc. and holds Impax stock.

Ethics approval

The study was conducted in full compliance with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration (and its amendments) and the International Conference on Harmonization Good Clinical Practices guidelines. The study protocol, consent documents, consent procedures, and subject recruitment procedures were approved by the institutional review board.

Informed consent

All study participants provided written informed consent before participation in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinical PharmacologyImpax Specialty PharmaHaywardUSA

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