Pharmaceutisch Weekblad

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 41–48 | Cite as

Ion pair absorption of ionized drugs —fact or fiction ?

  • J. H. G. Jonkman
  • C. A. Hunt
Review Articles


The lipophilicity of some highly ionized drugs at physiological pH is very low. Gastro-intestinal absorption of such compounds cannot be explained by the ‘pH-partition’ hypothesis. Ion pair formation between a drug and an endogenous counter ion alone resulting in an electrically neutral and potentially more lipophilic species has been proposed as a mechanism to explain the observed, though deficient, absorption of ionic drugs. The concept of ion pair formation between an ionic drug and an exogenous counter ion has been the rationale for attempts to improve penetration of biological membranes and, specifically, result in increased absorption from the gastro-intestinal tract. The validity of the ‘ion pair absorption hypothesis’ is re-evaluated in the context of a conceptual review of relevant literature.


Public Health Internal Medicine Relevant Literature Biological Membrane Pair Formation 
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Copyright information

© Royal Dutch Association for Advancement of Pharmacy 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. H. G. Jonkman
    • 1
    • 2
  • C. A. Hunt
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratory for Drug Analysis (Drug Monitoring Unit)AC AssenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Pharmaceutical and Analytical ChemistryState UniversityAW GroningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.School of Pharmacy, Drug Delivery Research GroupUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

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