Transporter-Mediated Disposition of Opioids: Implications for Clinical Drug Interactions

Pharm Res. 2015 Aug;32(8):2477-502. doi: 10.1007/s11095-015-1711-5. Epub 2015 May 14.


Opioid-related deaths, abuse, and drug interactions are growing epidemic problems that have medical, social, and economic implications. Drug transporters play a major role in the disposition of many drugs, including opioids; hence they can modulate their pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and their associated drug-drug interactions (DDIs). Our understanding of the interaction of transporters with many therapeutic agents is improving; however, investigating such interactions with opioids is progressing relatively slowly despite the alarming number of opioids-mediated DDIs that may be related to transporters. This review presents a comprehensive report of the current literature relating to opioids and their drug transporter interactions. Additionally, it highlights the emergence of transporters that are yet to be fully identified but may play prominent roles in the disposition of opioids, the growing interest in transporter genomics for opioids, and the potential implications of opioid-drug transporter interactions for cancer treatments. A better understanding of drug transporters interactions with opioids will provide greater insight into potential clinical DDIs and could help improve opioids safety and efficacy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacokinetics*
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / pharmacokinetics
  • Substance-Related Disorders / metabolism


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Illicit Drugs