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Do the Recommended Standards for In Vitro Biopharmaceutic Classification of Drug Permeability Meet the "Passive Transport" Criterion for Biowaivers?

[ Vol. 14 , Issue. 1 ]


Simon Zakelj, Katja Berginc, Robert Roskar, Bor Kraljic and Albin Kristl   Pages 21 - 27 ( 7 )


BCS based biowaivers are recognized by major regulatory agencies. An application for a biowaiver can be supported by or even based on "in vitro" measurements of drug permeability. However, guidelines limit the application of biowaivers to drug substances that are transported only by passive mechanisms. Regarding published permeability data as well as measurements obtained in our institution, one can rarely observe drug substances that conform to this very strict criterion.

Therefore, we measured the apparent permeability coefficients of 13 drugs recommended by FDA's Guidance to be used as standards for "in vitro" permeability classification. The asymmetry of permeability data determined for both directions (mucosal-to-serosal and serosalto- mucosal) through the rat small intestine revealed significant active transport for four out of the nine high-permeability standards and for all four low-permeability standard drugs. As could be expected, this asymmetry was abolished at 4°C on rat intestine. The permeability of all nine high-permeability, but none of the low permeability standards, was also much lower when measured with intestinal tissue, Caco-2 cell monolayers or artificial membranes at 4°C compared to standard conditions (37°C). Additionally, concurrent testing of several standard drugs revealed that membrane transport can be affected by the use of internal permeability standards.

The implications of the results are discussed regarding the regulatory aspects of biopharmaceutical classification, good practice in drug permeability evaluation and regarding the general relevance of transport proteins with broad specificity in drug absorption.


Active transport, BCS, biowaivers, efflux, guidelines, in vitro permeability


Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Ljubljana, Askerceva 7, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.

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