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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Clinical pharmacokinetics of drugs used to treat urge incontinence.

Urge incontinence (also known as overactive bladder) is a common form of urinary incontinence, occurring alone or as a component of mixed urinary incontinence, frequently together with stress incontinence. Because of the pathophysiology of urge incontinence, anticholinergic/antispasmodic agents form the cornerstone of therapy. Unfortunately, the pharmacological activity of these agents is not limited to the urinary tract, leading to systemic adverse effects that often promote nonadherence. Although the pharmacokinetics of flavoxate, propantheline, scopolamine, imipramine/desipramine, trospium chloride and propiverine are also reviewed here, only for oxybutynin and tolterodine are there adequate efficacy/tolerability data to support their use in urge incontinence. Oxybutynin is poorly absorbed orally (2-11% for the immediate-release tablet formulation). Controlled-release oral formulations significantly prolong the time to peak plasma concentration and reduce the degree of fluctuation around the average concentration. Significant absorption occurs after intravesical (bladder) and transdermal administration, although concentrations of the active N-desethyl metabolite are lower after transdermal compared with oral administration, possibly improving tolerability. Food has been found to significantly affect the absorption of one of the controlled-release formulations of oxybutynin, enhancing the rate of drug release. Oxybutynin is extensively metabolised, principally via N-demethylation mediated by the cytochrome P450 ( CYP) 3A isozyme. The pharmacokinetics of tolterodine are dependent in large part on the pharmacogenomics of the CYP2D6 and 3A4 isozymes. In an unselected population, oral bioavailability of tolterodine ranges from 10% to 74% (mean 33%) whereas in CYP2D6 extensive metabolisers and poor metabolisers mean bioavailabilities are 26% and 91%, respectively. Tolterodine is metabolised via CYP2D6 to the active metabolite 5-hydroxymethyl-tolterodine and via CYP3A to N-dealkylated metabolites. Urinary excretion of parent compound plays a minor role in drug disposition. Drug effect is based upon the unbound concentration of the so-called 'active moiety' (sum of tolterodine + 5-hydroxymethyl-tolterodine). Terminal disposition half-lives of tolterodine and 5-hydroxymethyl-tolterodine (in CYP2D6 extensive metabolisers) are 2-3 and 3-4 hours, respectively. Coadministration of antacid essentially converts the extended-release formulation into an immediate-release formulation. Knowledge of the pharmacokinetics of these agents may improve the treatment of urge incontinence by allowing the identification of individuals at high risk for toxicity with 'usual' dosages. In addition, the use of alternative formulations (controlled-release oral, transdermal) may also facilitate adherence, not only by reducing the frequency of drug administration but also by enhancing tolerability by altering the proportions of parent compound and active metabolite in the blood.[1]


  1. Clinical pharmacokinetics of drugs used to treat urge incontinence. Guay, D.R. Clinical pharmacokinetics. (2003) [Pubmed]
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