The use of drug metabolism for prediction of intestinal permeability (dagger)

Mol Pharm. Jan-Feb 2009;6(1):74-81. doi: 10.1021/mp8001864.


The Biopharmaceutics Classification System (BCS), based on the aqueous solubility and intestinal permeability of a drug substance, has been widely used to predict the extent of drug absorption during the course of pharmaceutical development. Combined with product dissolution data, this system has gained a prominent role in regulatory process to determine if a drug formulated in an immediate release solid oral dosage form qualifies for waiver of in vivo bioequivalence studies. In parallel, the Biopharmaceutics Drug Disposition Classification System (BDDCS), using aqueous solubility and drug metabolism, takes on another venue to predict overall drug disposition. It has been suggested that the matrix of drug metabolism in BDDCS can be used to substantiate the classification of permeability by BCS. A total of 51 drugs were compiled in this study to examine the use of drug metabolism for predicting permeability. All compounds were classified as high permeability based on BCS, but only 73% of the compounds were found to exhibit extensive metabolism. Lipophilicity accounts for significant metabolism of many highly permeable drugs. Fourteen (14) out of 51 drugs have poor metabolism, suggesting that high permeability as defined by BCS does not necessarily dictate extensive metabolism. The drugs that have high permeability but poor metabolism are generally hydrophilic molecules with low molecular weight and are likely to be absorbed by active transport mechanisms. Based on the present data and literature information, it seems logical to predict that the extent of absorption is mostly complete (or > or =90%) if the drug is subject to a high degree of metabolism (e.g., > or =90%). The extent of drug metabolism may be useful in supporting permeability classification under certain circumstances.

MeSH terms

  • Intestinal Absorption*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations