Deuterated Drugs

J Psychosoc Nurs Ment Health Serv. 2015 Sep;53(9):13-6. doi: 10.3928/02793695-20150821-55.


Many drugs are carbon-based, and carbon-hydrogen bonding is particularly relevant for understanding important properties of drug molecules. Deuteration refers to the selective replacement of protium hydrogen isotope atoms in small-molecule drugs with deuterium hydrogen isotope atoms. Deuteration of a drug is most likely to affect pharmacokinetic properties, such as metabolism, rather than its pharmacodynamic effects. For this reason, the metabolism of certain drugs may be favorably influenced when deuterium is substituted for protium, resulting in improved safety, tolerability, or efficacy. Examples of deuterated drugs that have been evaluated in clinical studies include paroxetine, tetrabenazine, and dextromethorphan.

MeSH terms

  • Deuterium / chemistry*
  • Deuterium / pharmacokinetics*
  • Dextromethorphan / chemistry*
  • Dextromethorphan / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Paroxetine / chemistry*
  • Paroxetine / pharmacokinetics
  • Prescription Drugs / chemistry*
  • Prescription Drugs / pharmacokinetics*
  • Tetrabenazine / chemistry*
  • Tetrabenazine / pharmacokinetics


  • Prescription Drugs
  • Paroxetine
  • Dextromethorphan
  • Deuterium
  • Tetrabenazine