The purpose of this investigation is to evaluate the scientific benefits of a novel approach in using stable isotopes to reduce the number of subjects needed to perform relative bioavailability and bioequivalence pharmacokinetic studies for formulations that are qualitatively and quantitatively the same and quality by design (QbD) pharmacokinetic studies. The stable isotope approach was investigated using simulations to determine the impact this approach would have on the estimation of variability and, subsequently, the sample size for a bioequivalence study. A biostudy was conducted in dogs in a two period crossover to explore the viability of the stable isotope approach. For a drug product with within-subject variability (CVw) of 50% and assuming a correlation of 0.95 between the enriched and non-enriched pharmacokinetics (PK), simulations showed that the variability can be reduced by 70% and the required sample size can be reduced by 90% while maintaining 90% power to demonstrate bioequivalence. The dog study showed a strong correlation (R2, > 0.99) between the enriched and non-enriched area under the curve and maximum observed concentration, and a significant reduction in the variability (reduction in % coefficient of variation from 79.9% to 6.3%). Utilization of a stable isotope approach can markedly improve the efficiency and accuracy of bioavailability and bioequivalence studies particularly for highly variable drugs in formulations that are qualitatively and quantitatively the same and for studies designed for QbD investigations.
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