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Sodium phenylbutyrate is a pro-drug and is rapidly metabolized to phenylacetate. Phenylacetate is a metabolically-active compound that conjugates with glutamine via acetylation to form phenylacetylglutamine. Phenylacetylglutamine then is excreted by the kidneys. On a molar basis, it is comparable to urea (each containing two moles of nitrogen). Therefore, phenylacetylglutamine provides an alternate vehicle for waste nitrogen excretion.
Pharmacokinetic studies have not been conducted in the primary patient population (neonates, infants, and children), but pharmacokinetic data were obtained from normal adult subjects.
Peak plasma levels of phenylbutyrate occur within 1 hour after a single dose of 5 grams of sodium phenylbutyrate tablet with a Cmax of 218 µg/mL under fasting conditions; peak plasma levels of phenylbutyrate occur within 1 hour after a single dose of 5 grams of sodium phenylbutyrate powder with a Cmax of 195 µg/mL under fasting conditions. The effect of food on phenylbutyrate's absorption is unknown.
The overall disposition of sodium phenylbutyrate and its metabolites has not been characterized fully. However, the drug is known to be metabolized to phenylacetate and subsequently to phenylacetylglutamine. Following oral administration of 5 grams (tablets), measurable plasma levels of phenylbutyrate and phenylacetate were detected 15 and 30 minutes after dosing, respectively, and phenylacetylglutamine was detected shortly thereafter. The pharmacokinetic parameters for phenylbutyrate for Cmax (µg/mL), Tmax (hours), and elimination half-life (hours) were 218, 1.35, and 0.77, respectively, and for phenylacetate were 48.5, 3.74, and 1.15, respectively.
Following oral administration of 5 grams of the powder, measurable plasma levels of phenylbutyrate and phenylacetate were detected 15 and 30 minutes after dosing, respectively, and phenylacetylglutamine was detected shortly thereafter. The pharmacokinetic parameters for phenylbutyrate for Cmax (µg/mL), Tmax (hours), and elimination half-life (hours) were 195, 1.00, and 0.76, respectively, and for phenylacetate were 45.3, 3.55, and 1.29, respectively.
A majority of the administered compound (approximately 80–100%) was excreted by the kidneys within 24 hours as the conjugation product, phenylacetylglutamine. For each gram of sodium phenylbutyrate administered, it is estimated that between 0.12–0.15 grams of phenylacetylglutamine nitrogen are produced.
In patients with urea cycle disorders, BUPHENYL® (sodium phenylbutyrate tablets) decreased elevated plasma ammonia glutamine levels. It increases waste nitrogen excretion in the form of phenylacetylglutamine.
Significant gender differences were found in the pharmacokinetics of phenylbutyrate and phenylacetate, but not for phenylacetylglutamine. The pharmacokinetic parameters (AUC and Cmax), for both plasma phenylbutyrate and phenylacetate were about 30 to 50 percent greater in females than in males.
In patients who did not have urea cycle disorders but had impaired hepatic function, the metabolism and excretion of sodium phenylbutyrate were not affected. However, this information was obtained from unvalidated, uncontrolled case studies.
Last reviewed on RxList: 4/22/2009
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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