This study was performed to estimate the population pharmacokinetic (PK) parameters of etanercept in pediatric juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) patients and to compare the steady-state time-concentration profiles between etanercept 0.8-mg/kg once-weekly and 0.4-mg/kg twice-weekly subcutaneous (SC) regimens by clinical trial simulation. To this end, mixed-effect analysis (NONMEM, Version 5.1) was performed using the etanercept PK database consisting of 69 JRA patients (4–17 years). Based on the population PK parameters obtained herein, a Monte Carlo clinical trial simulation experiment was conducted to compare the PK profiles in 200 virtual JRA patients who randomly received either etanercept 0.4 mg/kg SC twice weekly or 0.8 mg/kg once weekly for 12 weeks. The following population PK model could adequately describe etanercept PK profiles for twice-weekly SC dosing of 0.4 mg/kg:
The means ± standard deviations of simulated trough concentrations for 0.8-mg/kg once-weekly and 0.4-mg/kg twice-weekly dosing regimens were 1.58 ± 1.07 mg/L and 1.92 ± 1.09 mg/L, respectively. Peaks during 0.8-mg/kg once-weekly dosing (2.92 ± 1.41 mg/L) were only 11% higher than during 0.4 mg/kg twice-weekly dosing (2.62 ± 1.23 mg/L). In conclusion, the clinical trial simulation confirmed that 0.8-mg/kg once-weekly and 0.4-mg/kg twice-weekly SC regimens of etanercept are expected to yield overlapping steady-state time-concentration profiles, leading to equivalent clinical outcomes. This has been the basis of the recent Food and Drug Administration approval of the 0.8-mg/kg once-weekly regimen in pediatric patients with JRA.