Journal of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation

Comparison of pharmacokinetics of a conjugated equine estrogen preparation (premarin) and a synthetic mixture of estrogens (C.E.S.) in postmenopausal women.

PMID 10865186


To compare the pharmacokinetics and relative bioavailabilities of key estrogen components of Premarin (Wyeth-Ayerst, Canada) with those of a generic conjugated estrogen preparation, C.E.S. (synthetic mixture of estrogens; ICN, Montreal, Canada) in healthy postmenopausal women. We conducted a randomized, single-dose, two-treatment, three-period crossover study in 41 postmenopausal women. After an oral dose (2 x 0.625 mg) of Premarin or C.E.S., plasma concentrations of unconjugated and total estrone (E(1)), equilin (Eq), 17beta-estradiol (17beta-E(2)), 17beta-dihydroequilin (17beta-Eq), Delta(8)-esterone (Delta(8)-E(1)) and Delta(8),17beta-estradiol (Delta(8),17beta-E(2)) were measured over 72 hours using gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy. After administration of C.E.S., E(1), Eq, and 17beta-Eq appeared in blood at a significantly faster rate (lower t(max)) than after Premarin. The rapid appearance of estrogens after C.E.S. was associated with significantly higher (14-61%) C(max) values. In contrast to the high C(max) values, the area under the curve (AUC)(infinity) of unconjugated and total Eq, and 17beta-Eq were significantly lower after C.E.S., whereas those of E(1) were significantly higher. Although, the t(max) values for 17beta-E(2) were lower and the C(max) values higher after C.E.S., only the C(max) of unconjugated 17beta-E(2) was significantly different after Premarin. Unconjugated and total Delta(8)-E(1) and its main metabolite, Delta(8),17beta-E(2), were detectable in plasma only after administration of Premarin. The geometric mean ratio (GMR) (C. E.S./Premarin) of bioavailability parameters indicated that all C(max) and t(max) values for the unconjugated and total E(1), Eq, 17beta-E(2), and 17beta-Eq fell outside the regulatory requirement that the 90% confidence intervals of GMRs of two products be within 80% and 125%. Similarly, with the exception of total E(1) and total Eq, none of the AUC(t) or AUC(alpha) of the remaining estrogens meets the required regulatory standards of bioequivalence. C.E.S. is not bioequivalent to Premarin. Because C.E.S. also is not pharmaceutically equivalent to Premarin, it cannot be assumed to be therapeutically equivalent. Until long-term clinical trials with C.E.S. demonstrate its efficacy, extrapolation of the long-term benefits described for Premarin to C.E.S. would be risky and questionable.