Pharmacokinetics of ondansetron in patients with hepatic insufficiency

J Clin Pharmacol. 1996 Mar;36(3):206-15. doi: 10.1002/j.1552-4604.1996.tb04190.x.


Ondansetron is primarily eliminated via hepatic metabolism; thus, liver disease may affect its clearance. The pharmacokinetics of ondansetron in patients with different degrees of hepatic insufficiency (N = 12 with hepatic impairment, as categorized by Pugh's classification method) were assessed and the results compared with results for age- and gender-matched control subjects with normal liver function (n = 12). A secondary objective was to correlate the Pugh method of assessing hepatic impairment and quantitative metabolic markers used to assess hepatic function (antipyrine clearance and indocyanine green clearance) with changes in the pharmacokinetics of ondansetron. This was an open-label study in which 8 mg ondansetron was given orally and intravenously, following a randomized crossover design. Clearance of ondansetron was lower among patients with hepatic impairment that control subjects. After a single, oral dose of ondansetron, mean absolute bioavailability increased markedly with increased hepatic insufficiency (approaching 100% in the group with severe hepatic impairment versus 66% for control subjects). These data suggest that there is a reduced first-pass effect in patients with liver disease resulting in a higher AUC0-infinity. A correlation existed between clearance of ondansetron and decreased antipyrine clearance; a smaller correlation existed between ondansetron clearance and indocyanine green clearance. Mean percent of ondansetron bound to plasma proteins was significantly lower in patients with liver disease than in control subjects. None of the patients experienced any severe adverse reactions attributed to ondansetron. A reduction in the clearance of ondansetron is associated with increasing degrees of hepatic insufficiency; therefore, patients with severe hepatic impairment (Pugh score of > 9) should have their daily dose of ondansetron limited to 8 mg (or 0.15 mg/kg).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Proteins / metabolism
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Liver Diseases / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Middle Aged
  • Ondansetron / pharmacokinetics*
  • Serotonin Antagonists / pharmacokinetics*


  • Blood Proteins
  • Serotonin Antagonists
  • Ondansetron