Bioavailability is referred to as the extent and rate to which the active drug ingredient or active moiety from the drug product is absorbed and becomes available at the site of drug action. The relative bioavailability in terms of the rate and extent of drug absorption is considered predictive of clinical outcomes. In 1984, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was authorized to approve generic drug products under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act based on evidence of average bioequivalence in drug absorption through the conduct of bioavailability and bioequivalence studies. This article provides an overview (from an American point of view) of definition of bioavailability and bioequivalence, Fundamental Bioequivalence Assumption, regulatory requirements, and process for bioequivalence assessment of generic drug products. Basic considerations including criteria, study design, power analysis for sample size determination, and the conduct of bioequivalence trial, and statistical methods are provided. Practical issues such as one size-fits-all criterion, drug interchangeability and scaled average criteria for assessment of highly variable drug products are also discussed.
Keywords: Drug interchangeability; Fundamental Bioequivalence Assumption; Highly variable drugs; Scaled average bioequivalence (SABE) criterion.