Pharmacokinetics of codeine and its metabolites in Caucasian healthy volunteers: comparisons between extensive and poor hydroxylators of debrisoquine

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1991 Jun;31(6):635-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.1991.tb05585.x.


1. The kinetics of codeine and seven of its metabolites codeine-6-glucuronide (C6G), norcodeine (NC), NC-glucuronide (NCG), morphine (M), M-3 (M3G) and 6-glucuronides (M6G), and normorphine (NM) were investigated after a single oral dose of 50 mg codeine phosphate in 14 healthy Caucasian subjects including eight extensive (EM) and six poor (PM) hydroxylators of debrisoquine. The plasma and urine concentrations of codeine and the metabolites were measured by h.p.l.c. 2. The mean area under the curve (AUC), half-life and total plasma clearance of codeine were 1020 +/- 340 nmol l-1 h, 2.58 +/- 0.57 h and 2.02 +/- 0.73 l h-1 kg-1, respectively. There were no significant differences between EM and PM in these aspects. 3. PM had significantly lower AUC of M3G, the active metabolites M6G, NM and M (P less than 0.0001), and lower partial metabolic clearance by O-demethylation (P less than 0.0001). In contrast, the PM had higher AUC of NC (P less than 0.05) than the EM. There was no difference between PM and EM in the AUC of C6G and NCG, nor in the partial clearances by N-demethylation and glucuronidation. 4. Among EM, the AUC of C6G was 15 times higher than that of codeine, which in turn was 50 times higher than that of M. The AUCs of M6G and NM were about 6 and 10 times higher than that of M, respectively. The partial clearance by glucuronidation was about 8 and 12 times higher than those by N- and O-demethylations, respectively.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Codeine / metabolism
  • Codeine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Debrisoquin / metabolism*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Female
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Hydroxylation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenotype
  • Reference Values


  • Codeine
  • Debrisoquin