Population Pharmacokinetic Modeling in the Presence of Missing Time-Dependent Covariates: Impact of Body Weight on Pharmacokinetics of Paracetamol in Neonates

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Body weight is the primary covariate in pharmacokinetics of many drugs and dramatically changes during the first weeks of life of neonates. The objective of this study is to determine if missing body weights in preterm and term neonates affect estimates of model parameters and which methods can be used to improve performance of a population pharmacokinetic model of paracetamol. Data for our analysis were obtained from previously published studies on the pharmacokinetics of intravenous paracetamol in neonates. We adopted a population model of body weight change in neonates to implement three previously introduced methods of handling missing covariates based on data imputation, likelihood function modification, and full random effects modeling. All models were implemented in NONMEM 7.4, and population parameters were estimated using the FOCE method. Our major finding was that missing body weights minimally affect population estimates of pharmacokinetic parameters but do affect the covariate relationship parameters, particularly the one describing dependence of clearance on body weight. None of the tested methods changed estimates of between-subject variability nor impacted the predictive performance of the model. Our analysis shows that a modeling approach towards handling missing covariates allows borrowing information gathered in various studies as long as they target the same population. This approach is particularly useful for handling time-dependent missing covariates.



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