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Pharmacokinetics of levonorgestrel and ethinylestradiol in 9 women who received a low-dose oral contraceptive over a treatment period of 3 months and, after a wash-out phase, a single oral administration of the same contraceptive formulation.

Author(s): Kuhnz W, al-Yacoub G, Fuhrmeister A

Affiliation(s): Research Laboratories, Schering AG, Berlin, Germany.

Publication date & source: 1992-11, Contraception., 46(5):455-69.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

The pharmacokinetics of levonorgestrel (LNG) and ethinylestradiol (EE2) were determined in 9 healthy women (age 23 to 42 years), during a treatment period of three months with a low-dose oral contraceptive, containing 0.15 mg LNG together with 0.03 mg EE2 (Microgynon). After a wash-out period of 3 months, 8 of these women received a single administration of the same formulation. The results showed that there was an increase in serum trough levels of LNG, reaching steady-state in the second half of each treatment cycle. The LNG levels achieved were about 3 to 4 times higher than anticipated on the basis of single dose administration. At the end of treatment cycles one and three, the terminal half-life of LNG was in the range of 24-26 h, while a mean value of 20 h was observed following single dose administration. An EE2-induced increase in the SHBG concentration of about 50% as compared to pretreatment values was observed during a treatment cycle. Pretreatment values were reached following the drug-free interval of 7 days between two cycles. After single dose administration, the free fraction of LNG was 1.3 +/- 0.2% and the fractions bound to SHBG and albumin were 64.1 +/- 4.2% and 34.6 +/- 4.0%, respectively. Serum protein binding of LNG did not change during chronic treatment. An about 50% reduction in total and unbound clearance of LNG was observed during chronic treatment, as compared to single dose administration. Increased SHBG binding capacity and a reduced hepatic metabolic capacity were discussed as possible causes of accumulating LNG concentrations in the serum. On the last day of treatment cycles one and three, the AUC(0-24h) values of EE2 were 728 +/- 314 and 778 +/- 318 pg x ml-1 x h, respectively, and were in keeping with data reported from others.

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