Effect of Adherence on Pharmacokinetic/Pharmacodynamic Relationships of Oral Targeted Anticancer Drugs

Clin Pharmacokinet. 2018 Jan;57(1):1-6. doi: 10.1007/s40262-017-0571-z.


The emergence of oral targeted anticancer agents transformed several cancers into chronic conditions with a need for long-term oral treatment. Although cancer is a life-threatening condition, oncology medication adherence-the extent to which a patient follows the drug regimen that is intended by the prescriber-can be suboptimal in the long term, as in any other chronic disease. Poor adherence can impact negatively on clinical outcomes, notably because most of these drugs are given as a standard non-individualized dosage despite marked inter-individual variabilities that can lead to toxic or inefficacious drug concentrations. This has been especially studied with the prototypal drug imatinib. In the context of therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM), increasingly advocated for oral anticancer treatment optimization, unreported suboptimal adherence affecting drug intake history may lead to significant bias in the concentration interpretation and inappropriate dosage adjustments. In the same way, suboptimal adherence may also bias the results of pharmacokinetic modeling studies, which will affect in turn Bayesian TDM interpretation that relies on such population models. Detailed knowledge of the influence of adherence on plasma concentrations in pharmacokinetic studies or in routine TDM programs is however presently missing in the oncology field. Studies on this topic are therefore eagerly awaited to better pilot the treatment of cancer with the new targeted agents and to find their optimal dosage regimen. Hence, the development and assessment of effective medication adherence programs are warranted for these treatments.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Monitoring / methods
  • Humans
  • Imatinib Mesylate / administration & dosage
  • Imatinib Mesylate / pharmacokinetics
  • Imatinib Mesylate / pharmacology
  • Medication Adherence*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Imatinib Mesylate