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Weight-based dosing in medication use: what should we know?

Authors Pan S, Zhu L, Chen M, Xia P, Zhou Q

Received 25 December 2015

Accepted for publication 2 March 2016

Published 12 April 2016 Volume 2016:10 Pages 549—560


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Lucy Goodman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Naifeng Liu

Sheng-dong Pan,1 Ling-ling Zhu,2 Meng Chen,3 Ping Xia,1 Quan Zhou3

1Division of Medical Administration, 2VIP Care Ward, Division of Nursing, 3Department of Pharmacy, The Second Affiliated Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, People’s Republic of China

Background: Weight-based dosing strategy is still challenging due to poor awareness and adherence. It is necessary to let clinicians know of the latest developments in this respect and the correct circumstances in which weight-based dosing is of clinical relevance.
Methods: A literature search was conducted using PubMed.
Results: Clinical indications, physiological factors, and types of medication may determine the applicability of weight-based dosing. In some cases, the weight effect may be minimal or the proper dosage can only be determined when weight is combined with other factors. Medications within similar therapeutic or structural class (eg, anticoagulants, antitumor necrosis factor medications, P2Y12-receptor antagonists, and anti-epidermal growth factor receptor antibodies) may exhibit differences in requirements on weight-based dosing. In some cases, weight-based dosing is superior to currently recommended fixed-dose regimen in adult patients (eg, hydrocortisone, vancomycin, linezolid, and aprotinin). On the contrary, fixed dosing is noninferior to or even better than currently recommended weight-based regimen in adult patients in some cases (eg, cyclosporine microemulsion, recombinant activated Factor VII, and epoetin α). Ideal body-weight-based dosing may be superior to the currently recommended total body-weight-based regimen (eg, atracurium and rocuronium). For dosing in pediatrics, whether weight-based dosing is better than body surface-area-based dosing is dependent on the particular medication (eg, methotrexate, prednisone, prednisolone, zidovudine, didanosine, growth hormone, and 13-cis-retinoic acid). Age-based dosing strategy is better than weight-based dosing in some cases (eg, intravenous busulfan and dalteparin). Dosing guided by pharmacogenetic testing did not show pharmacoeconomic advantage over weight-adjusted dosing of 6-mercaptopurine. The common viewpoint (ie, pediatric patients should be dosed on the basis of body weight) is not always correct. Effective weight-based dosing interventions include standardization of weight estimation, documentation and dosing determination, dosing chart, dosing protocol, order set, pharmacist participation, technological information, and educational measures.
Conclusion: Although dosing methods are specified in prescribing information for each drug and there are no principal pros and cons to be elaborated, this review of weight-based dosing strategy will enrich the knowledge of medication administration from the perspectives of safety, efficacy, and pharmacoeconomics, and will also provide research opportunities in clinical practice. Clinicians should be familiar with dosage and administration of the medication to be prescribed as well as the latest developments.

Keywords: body weight, dosage and administration, efficacy, medication safety, pediatrics, pharmacoeconomics

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