The use of microtracers in food-effect trials: An alternative study design for toxic drugs with long half-lives exemplified by the case for alectinib.


The traditional design of food-effect studies has a high patient burden for toxic drugs with long half-lives (e.g., anticancer agents). Microtracers could be used to assess food-effect in patients without influencing their ongoing treatment. The feasibility of a microtracer food-effect study during steady-state of the therapeutic drug was investigated in an in silico simulation study with alectinib as an example for a relative toxic drug with a long half-life. Microtracer pharmacokinetics were simulated based on a previously published population pharmacokinetic model and used for estimation of a model with and a model without food as a covariate on oral bioavailability of alectinib (assuming a 40% food-effect). Power was defined as the fraction of clinical trials where a significant (p < 0.01) food-effect was identified. The proposed study design of 10 patients on steady-state treatment, 10 blood samples collected within 24 h after administration and an assumed food-effect of 40% had a power of 99.9%. The mean estimated food-effect was 39.8% (80% confidence interval: 31.0%-48.6%). The feasibility of microtracer food-effect studies was demonstrated. The design of the microtracer food-effect study allowed estimation of the food-effect with minimal influence on therapeutic treatment and reducing patient burden compared to the traditional study design for toxic drugs with long half-lives.

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Clinical and translational science
  • Publication date 12-10-2023

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