Clinical pharmacokinetics of flurbiprofen and its enantiomers

Clin Pharmacokinet. 1995 Feb;28(2):100-14. doi: 10.2165/00003088-199528020-00002.


Flurbiprofen is a chiral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) of the 2-arylpropionic acid class. Although it possesses a chiral centre, with the S-(+)-enantiomer possessing most of the beneficial anti-inflammatory activity, both enantiomers may possess analgesic activity and all flurbiprofen preparations to date are marketed as the racemate. Flurbiprofen exhibits stereoselectivity in its pharmacokinetics. Stereoselectivity is exhibited at the level of protein binding and metabolite formation. Hence, the data generated using nonstereoselective assays may not be used to explain the pharmacokinetics of individual enantiomers. The absorption of flurbiprofen is rapid and almost complete when given orally. The area under the plasma concentration-time curve of flurbiprofen is proportional to the dose administered to patients. Sustained release dosage forms are available, which may be beneficial due to the short terminal phase elimination half-life of conventional immediate release flurbiprofen (3 to 6 hours). They may also decrease local gastrointestinal adverse effects. Although with these preparations the peak plasma drug concentration is reduced and time taken to achieve peak concentrations is prolonged, the bioavailability is the same as that with regular release counterparts. Flurbiprofen binds extensively to plasma albumin, apparently in a stereoselective manner. Substantial concentrations of the drug are attained in synovial fluid, which is the proposed site of action of NSAIDs. There is negligible R to S inversion after oral administration. Flurbiprofen is eliminated following extensive biotransformation to glucuro-conjugated metabolites. Conjugates are excreted in urine, and approximately 20% of flurbiprofen is eliminated unchanged. The excretion of conjugates may be tied to renal function as accumulation of conjugates occurs in end-stage renal disease, but not in young individuals or elderly patients. Although flurbiprofen is excreted into breast milk, the amount of drug transferred comprises only a small fraction of the maternal exposure. Significant drug interactions have been demonstrated for aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), coumarins and propranolol. The relationship between concentration and anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect has yet to be elucidated for this drug.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Administration, Oral
  • Aging / metabolism
  • Blood Proteins / metabolism
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Interactions
  • Flurbiprofen / chemistry
  • Flurbiprofen / pharmacokinetics*
  • Flurbiprofen / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / drug therapy
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Synovial Fluid / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Blood Proteins
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Flurbiprofen