Elimination Half-Life

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    Elimination half-life (t1/2) is a crucial pharmacokinetic parameter representing the time it takes for the concentration of a drug in the body to decrease to half of its initial value. It provides insights into how quickly a drug is eliminated from the body and is fundamental in establishing drug dosing regimens.

    Importance of t1/2

    • Dosing Regimen: The half-life helps in determining a drug’s dosing regimen and maintaining therapeutic drug levels.
    • Therapeutic Drug Monitoring: It aids in understanding and predicting drug concentrations at different time points.
    • Drug Accumulation Assessment: Offers insights into drug accumulation with repeated dosing to avoid toxicity.
    • Drug Interaction Prediction: Assists in predicting possible interactions between different drugs.


    t1/2 is measured by analyzing drug concentrations in blood samples at different times post-administration and applying pharmacokinetic models to estimate the rate of drug elimination. Typically, software like Phoenix WinNonlin is used for calculating pharmacokinetic parameters.


    If a drug has a half-life of 6 hours, 50% of the initial drug concentration remains after 6 hours. After another 6 hours (12 hours total), 25% of the initial concentration remains, and so on.


    • The value of t1/2 can vary significantly due to factors like metabolism, age, weight, sex, organ function, and other medications.
    • About 5 half-lives are typically required for over 95% of the drug to be eliminated from the body.

    Clinical Implication

    Knowledge of the elimination half-life is critical for determining dosing frequency to maintain therapeutic levels and avoid adverse effects due to drug accumulation. It also guides dose adjustments in special populations like those with liver or kidney impairment.

    See Also