The main aim of this analysis was to characterize the pharmacokinetics (PK) of tapentadol in pediatric patients from birth to <18 years old who experience acute pain, requiring treatment with an opioid analgesic.
Data from four clinical trials and 148 pediatric patients who received a single dose of tapentadol oral or intravenous solution were included. Population PK analysis was performed to determine the contribution of size-related (bodyweight) and function-related (maturation) factors to the changes in oral bioavailability (F), volume of distribution (V), and clearance (CL) with age. Simulations were carried out to compare pediatric exposures to reference adult values.
A one-compartment model with allometric scaling on disposition parameters (using theoretical or estimated exponents) and maturation functions on CL and F best described tapentadol PK. The estimated allometric exponents for CL (0.603) and V (0.820) differed slightly from the theoretical values of 0.75 for CL and 1 for V. A maximum in CL/F was observed at about 2–3 years when expressed on a bodyweight basis. Results for younger children as well as the F estimate were sensitive to the scaling approach, but CL/F and V/F as a function of age for the two scaling approaches led to similar curves within the bioequivalence range except below 5 weeks of age. Model-based simulations indicated that the doses used in the included clinical trials lead to exposures within the lower half of the targeted adult exposure.
The development of tapentadol is one of the first examples following a systematic approach for analgesic drug development for children. Our analysis enabled a full characterization and robust understanding of tapentadol PK in children from birth to <18 years, including preterm infants, and showed the importance of evaluating the sensitivity of the inferences of the PK parameters to the selected scaling approach.