Highly Variable Paracetamol Pharmacokinetics After Multiple Oral Dosing in Frail Older People: A Population Pharmacokinetic Analysis

L. T. van der Heijden, P. Mian*, J. Hias, B. C.M. de Winter, J. Tournoy, L. Van der Linden, D. Tibboel, K. Walgraeve, J. Flamaing, B. C.P. Koch, K. Allegaert, I. Spriet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction: Paracetamol pharmacokinetics (PK) is highly variable in older fit adults after intravenous administration. Frailty and oral administration likely result in additional variability. The aim was to determine oral paracetamol PK and variability in geriatric inpatients.

Methods: A population PK analysis, using NONMEM 7.2, was performed on 245 paracetamol samples in 40 geriatric inpatients (median age 87 [range 80–95] years, bodyweight 66.4 [49.3–110] kg, 92.5% frail [Edmonton Frail Scale]). All subjects received paracetamol 1000 mg as tablet (72.5%) or granulate (27.5%) three times daily. Simulations of dosing regimens (1000 mg every 6 hours [q6h] or q8h) were performed to determine target attainment, using mean steady-state concentration (Css-mean) of 10 mg/L as target.

Results: A one-compartment model with first order absorption and lag time best described the data. The inter-individual variability was high, with absorption rate constant containing the highest variability. The inter-individual variability could not be explained by covariates. Simulations of 1000 mg q6h and q8h resulted in a Css-mean of 10.8 [25–75th percentiles 8.2–12.7] and 8.13 [6.3–9.6] mg/L, respectively, for the average geriatric inpatient. The majority of the population remained off-target (22.2% [q6h] and 52.2% [q8h] <8 mg/L; 31.3 [q6h] and 7.6% [q8h] >12 mg/L).

Conclusion: A population of average geriatric inpatients achieved target Css-mean with paracetamol 1000 mg q6h, while q8h resulted in underexposure for the majority of them. Due to high unexplained variability, a relevant proportion remained either above or below the target concentration of 10 mg/L. Research focusing on PK, efficacy and safety is needed to recommend dosing regimens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83–95
Number of pages13
JournalDrugs and Aging
Issue number1
Early online date17-Dec-2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2022

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