The bioavailability of intranasal and smoked methamphetamine

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2003 Nov;74(5):475-86. doi: 10.1016/j.clpt.2003.08.002.


Background: Patients in harm-reduction treatment programs are switching from intravenous to other routes of methamphetamine (INN, metamfetamine) administration to avoid risks associated with needle use. Relatively little has been reported about the bioavailability of methamphetamine when smoked or used intranasally.

Methods: Eight experienced methamphetamine users were administered smoked or intranasal methamphetamine concurrently with an intravenous dose of deuterium-labeled methamphetamine. Plasma and urine concentrations were measured for calculation of bioavailability and other pharmacokinetic parameters by noncompartmental methods.

Results: Methamphetamine was well absorbed after smoking or intranasal administration, with bioavailabilities of 79% after intranasal administration and 67% of the estimated delivered dose or 37.4% of the absolute (pipe) dose after smoking. Maximum methamphetamine concentrations occurred at 2.7 and 2.5 hours after intranasal and smoked doses. The elimination half-life was similar for intravenous (11.4 hours), intranasal (10.7 hours), and smoked (10.7 hours) methamphetamine. Clearance (272 mL x h(-1) x kg(-1)), steady-state volume of distribution (4.2 L/kg), and mean residence time (16 hours) of the intravenous dose were similar to previously reported values. Dextroamphetamine (INN, dexamfetamine) half-life (all routes) was 16.2 hours. Methamphetamine and dextroamphetamine renal clearances (all routes) were about 100 and 1100 mL x h(-1) x kg(-1), respectively.

Conclusions: Intranasal and smoked methamphetamine are well absorbed. Although intranasal or smoked routes may decrease the risk of transmission of blood-borne diseases, exposure to methamphetamine and the possibility of drug-related complications remain substantial.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Adult
  • Area Under Curve
  • Biological Availability
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / administration & dosage*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacokinetics*
  • Dextroamphetamine / administration & dosage
  • Dextroamphetamine / pharmacokinetics
  • Euphoria / drug effects
  • Half-Life
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Isotope Labeling
  • Male
  • Methamphetamine / administration & dosage*
  • Methamphetamine / adverse effects
  • Methamphetamine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoke


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Smoke
  • Methamphetamine
  • Dextroamphetamine