Pharmacokinetics and absolute bioavailability of ribavirin in healthy volunteers as determined by stable-isotope methodology.

Antimicrob Agents Chemother 1999 Oct;43(10):2451-6 
Preston SL, Drusano GL, Glue P, Nash J, Gupta SK, McNamara P Department of Medicine, Albany Medical College, Albany, New York. 

Ribavirin has recently been demonstrated to have efficacy in combination with alpha interferon for treatment of relapsed hepatitis C. The marked improvement in the response rate after treatment with the combination regimen (10-fold higher versus that from monotherapy with alpha interferon) highlights the importance of determining the absolute bioavailability of ribavirin as a first step in beginning to investigate the pharmacodynamics of the combination. The objective of this study was to determine the absolute bioavailability of ribavirin with an intravenous formulation containing ribavirin labeled with the stable isotope (13)C(3) ((13)C(3)-ribavirin) and unlabeled oral ribavirin. Six healthy volunteers received 150 mg of intravenous (13)C(3)-ribavirin followed 1 h later by a 400-mg oral dose of ribavirin. Samples of blood and urine were collected up to 169 h postdosing. Concentrations of (13)C(3)-ribavirin and unlabeled ribavirin were determined by a high-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometric method. All plasma and urine data were comodeled for labeled and unlabeled ribavirin by using both the two- and three-compartment models in the program ADAPT II. A three-compartment model was chosen for the pharmacokinetic analysis with the Akaike Information Criterion. The mean maximum concentrations of drug in plasma for intravenous and oral ribavirin were 4,187 and 638 ng/ml, respectively. The mean bioavailability was 51.8% +/- 21.8%, and the mean gamma-phase half-life was 37.0 +/- 14. 2 h. The mean renal clearance, metabolic clearance, and volume of distribution of the central compartment were 6.94 liters/h, 18.1 liters/h, and 17.8 liters, respectively. The use of the stable-isotope methodology has provided the best estimate of the absolute bioavailability of ribavirin that is currently available, as there was neither a period bias nor a washout effect to confound the data. The study demonstrated that the mean bioavailability for a 400-mg dose of ribavirin was 52%, which is higher than that previously reported in other investigations.