Concomitant use of mirtazapine and phenytoin: a drug-drug interaction study in healthy male subjects

Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2002 Sep;58(6):423-9. doi: 10.1007/s00228-002-0498-6. Epub 2002 Aug 14.


Objective: The objectives of this study were to assess the effect of mirtazapine on steady-state pharmacokinetics of phenytoin and vice versa and to assess tolerability and safety of the combined use of mirtazapine and phenytoin.

Methods: This was an open-label, randomised, parallel-groups, single-centre, multiple-dose pharmacokinetic study. Seventeen healthy, male subjects completed either treatment A [nine subjects: daily 200 mg phenytoin for 17 days plus mirtazapine (15 mg for 2 days continuing with 30 mg for 5 days) from day 11 to day 17] or treatment B [eight subjects: mirtazapine, daily 15 mg for 2 days continuing with 30 mg for 15 days plus phenytoin 200 mg from day 8 to day 17]. Serial blood samples were taken for kinetic profiling on the 10th and 17th days of treatment A and on the 7th and 17th days of treatment B. Induction of CYP 3A by phenytoin was evaluated by measuring the ratio of 6 beta-hydroxycortisol over cortisol on the 1st, 7th and 17th days of treatment B.

Results: Co-administration of mirtazapine had no effect on the steady-state pharmacokinetics of phenytoin, i.e. the area under the plasma concentration-time curve (AUC)(0-24) and peak plasma concentration (C(max)) remained unchanged. The addition of phenytoin to an existing daily administration of mirtazapine resulted in a mean (+/-SD) decrease of the AUC(0-24) from 576+/-104 ng h/ml to 305+/-81.6 ng h/ml and a mean decrease of C(max) from 69.7+/-17.5 ng/ml to 46.9+/-10.9 ng/ml. Induction of CYP 3A by phenytoin is confirmed by the significantly ( P=0.001) increased 6beta-hydroxycortisol/cortisol ratio from 1.74+/-1.00 to 2.74+/-1.64.

Conclusion: Co-administration of mirtazapine did not alter the steady-state pharmacokinetics of phenytoin. The addition of phenytoin to an existing daily administration of mirtazapine results in a decrease of the plasma concentrations of mirtazapine by 46% on average, most likely due to induction of CYP 3A3/4.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants / administration & dosage
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacokinetics*
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / administration & dosage
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / adverse effects
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / pharmacokinetics*
  • Area Under Curve
  • Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mianserin / administration & dosage
  • Mianserin / adverse effects
  • Mianserin / analogs & derivatives
  • Mianserin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mirtazapine
  • Phenytoin / administration & dosage
  • Phenytoin / adverse effects
  • Phenytoin / pharmacokinetics*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic
  • Mianserin
  • Phenytoin
  • Mirtazapine