In pharmacology, bioavailability is a subcategory of absorption and is the fraction (%) of an administered drug that reaches the systemic circulation.[1]

By definition, when a medication is administered intravenously, its bioavailability is 100%.[2][3] However, when a medication is administered via routes other than intravenous, its bioavailability is generally[TH] lower than that of intravenous due to intestinal endothelium absorption and first-pass metabolism. Thereby, mathematically, bioavailability equals the ratio of comparing the area under the plasma drug concentration curve versus time (AUC) for the extravascular formulation to the AUC for the intravascular formulation.[4] AUC is used because AUC is proportional to the dose that has entered the systemic circulation.[5]

Bioavailability of a drug is an average value; to take population variability into account, deviation range is shown as ±.[4] To ensure that the drug taker who has poor absorption is dosed appropriately, the bottom value of the deviation range is employed to represent real bioavailability and to calculate the drug dose needed for the drug taker to achieve systemic concentrations similar to the intravenous formulation.[4] To dose without knowing the drug taker's absorption rate, the bottom value of the deviation range is used in order to ensure the intended efficacy, unless the drug is associated with a narrow therapeutic window.[4]

For dietary supplements, herbs and other nutrients in which the route of administration is nearly always oral, bioavailability generally designates simply the quantity or fraction of the ingested dose that is absorbed.[6][7][8]

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