Clinical pharmacokinetics of ketoprofen and its enantiomers

Clin Pharmacokinet. 1990 Sep;19(3):197-217. doi: 10.2165/00003088-199019030-00004.


Ketoprofen, a potent nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) of the 2-arylpropionic acid class, has been used clinically for over 15 years in Europe, and has recently been introduced in the United States. Although it possesses a chiral centre, with only the S-enantiomer possessing beneficial pharmacological activity, all ketoprofen preparations to date are marketed as the racemate. Ketoprofen exhibits little stereoselectivity in its pharmacokinetics. The enantiomers have similar plasma time-courses and do not seem to interact with one another. Hence, the data generated using nonstereospecific assays may be used to explain the pharmacokinetics of individual enantiomers. The absorption of ketoprofen is rapid and almost complete when given orally. Sustained release dosage forms are available, which may be beneficial due to the short terminal phase half-life of ketoprofen (1 to 3h). They may also decrease local gastrointestinal side effects. Although with these preparations the peak plasma drug concentration is reduced and time to peak is prolonged, the bioavailability is the same as that with regular release counterparts. Ketoprofen binds extensively to plasma albumin, apparently in a stereoselective manner. Substantial concentrations of the drug are attained in synovial fluid, the proposed site of action of NSAIDs. It is eliminated following extensive biotransformation to inactive glucuroconjugated metabolite. There is about 10% R to S inversion upon oral administration. Conjugates are excreted in urine, and virtually no drug is eliminated unchanged. The excretion of conjugates is closely tied to renal function; accumulation of conjugates occurs in the elderly, but not in young subjects or patients. Significant drug interactions have been demonstrated for probenecid, aspirin and methotrexate. There appears to be circadian variation, particularly in the absorption of ketoprofen. The relationship between concentration and anti-inflammatory effect has yet to be elucidated for this drug.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Ketoprofen / analysis
  • Ketoprofen / pharmacokinetics*
  • Ketoprofen / therapeutic use
  • Stereoisomerism


  • Ketoprofen