Mechanism of action

Apalutamide is an orally administered, selective Androgen Receptor (AR) inhibitor that binds directly to the ligand-binding domain of the AR. Apalutamide prevents AR nuclear translocation, inhibits DNA binding, impedes AR-mediated transcription, and lacks androgen receptor agonist activity. Apalutamide treatment decreases tumor cell proliferation and increases apoptosis leading to potent antitumor activity. A major metabolite, N-desmethyl apalutamide, exhibited one-third the in vitro activity of apalutamide.

Pharmacodynamic properties

Cardiac electrophysiology

The effect of apalutamide 240 mg once daily on the QTc interval was assessed in an open-label, uncontrolled, multi-center, single-arm dedicated QT study in 45 patients with CRPC. At steady-state, the maximum mean QTcF change from baseline was 12.4 ms (2-sided 90% upper CI: 16.0 ms). An exposure-QT analysis suggested a concentration-dependent increase in QTcF for apalutamide and its active metabolite.

Pharmacokinetic properties

Following repeat once-daily dosing, apalutamide exposure (Cmax and area under the concentration curve [AUC]) increased in a dose-proportional manner across the dose range of 30 to 480 mg. Following administration of 240 mg once daily, apalutamide steady state was achieved after 4 weeks and the mean accumulation ratio was approximately 5-fold relative to a single dose. At steady-state, mean (CV%) Cmax and AUC values for apalutamide were 6 µg/mL (28%) and 100 µg.h/mL (32%), respectively. Daily fluctuations in apalutamide plasma concentrations were low, with mean peak-to-trough ratio of 1.63. An increase in apparent clearance (CL/F) was observed with repeat dosing, likely due to induction of apalutamide’s own metabolism.

At steady-state, the mean (CV%) Cmax and AUC values for the major active metabolite, N-desmethyl apalutamide, were 5.9 µg/mL (18%) and 124 µg.h/mL (19%), respectively. N-desmethyl apalutamide is characterised by a flat concentration-time profile at steady-state with a mean peak-to-trough ratio of 1.27. Mean (CV%) AUC metabolite/parent drug ratio for N-desmethyl apalutamide following repeat-dose administration was about 1.3 (21%). Based on systemic exposure, relative potency, and pharmacokinetic properties, N-desmethyl apalutamide likely contributed to the clinical activity of apalutamide.


After oral administration, median time to achieve peak plasma concentration (tmax) was 2 hours (range: 1 to 5 hours). Mean absolute oral bioavailability is approximately 100%, indicating that apalutamide is completely absorbed after oral administration.

Administration of apalutamide to healthy subjects under fasting conditions and with a high-fat meal resulted in no clinically relevant changes in Cmax and AUC. Median time to reach tmax was delayed about 2 hours with food.

Apalutamide is not ionizable under relevant physiological pH condition, therefore acid lowering agents (e.g., proton pump inhibitor, H2-receptor antagonist, antacid) are not expected to affect the solubility and bioavailability of apalutamide.

In vitro, apalutamide and its N-desmethyl metabolite are substrates for P-gp. Because apalutamide is completely absorbed after oral administration, P-gp does not limit the absorption of apalutamide and therefore, inhibition or induction of P-gp is not expected to affect the bioavailability of apalutamide.


The mean apparent volume of distribution at steady-state of apalutamide is about 276 L. The volume of distribution of apalutamide is greater than the volume of total body water, indicative of extensive extravascular distribution.

Apalutamide and N-desmethyl apalutamide are 96% and 95% bound to plasma proteins, respectively, and mainly bind to serum albumin with no concentration dependency.


Following single oral administration of 14C-labeled apalutamide 240 mg, apalutamide, the active metabolite, N-desmethyl apalutamide, and an inactive carboxylic acid metabolite accounted for the majority of the 14C-radioactivity in plasma, representing 45%, 44%, and 3%, respectively, of the total 14C-AUC.

Metabolism is the main route of elimination of apalutamide. It is metabolised primarily by CYP2C8 and CYP3A4 to form N-desmethyl apalutamide. Apalutamide and N-desmethyl apalutamide are further metabolised to form the inactive carboxylic acid metabolite by carboxylesterase. The contribution of CYP2C8 and CYP3A4 in the metabolism of apalutamide is estimated to be 58% and 13% following single dose but the level of contribution is expected to change at steady-state due to induction of CYP3A4 by apalutamide after repeat dose.


Apalutamide, mainly in the form of metabolites, is eliminated primarily via urine. Following a single oral administration of radiolabeled apalutamide, 89% of the radioactivity was recovered up to 70 days post-dose: 65% was recovered in urine (1.2% of dose as unchanged apalutamide and 2.7% as N-desmethyl apalutamide) and 24% was recovered in feces (1.5% of dose as unchanged apalutamide and 2% as N-desmethyl apalutamide).

The apparent oral clearance (CL/F) of apalutamide is 1.3 L/h after single dosing and increases to 2.0 L/h at steady-state after once-daily dosing. The mean effective half-life for apalutamide in patients is about 3 days at steady-state.

In vitro data indicate that apalutamide and its N-desmethyl metabolite are not substrates for BCRP, OATP1B1 or OATP1B3.

Special populations

The effects of renal impairment, hepatic impairment, age, race, and other extrinsic factors on the pharmacokinetics of apalutamide are summarised below.

Renal impairment

A dedicated renal impairment study for apalutamide has not been conducted. Based on the population pharmacokinetic analysis using data from clinical studies in subjects with castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) and healthy subjects, no significant difference in systemic apalutamide exposure was observed in subjects with pre-existing mild to moderate renal impairment (estimated glomerular filtration rate [eGFR] between 30 to 89 mL/min/1.73 m²; N=585) compared to subjects with baseline normal renal function (eGFR ≥90 mL/min/1.73 m²; N=372). The potential effect of severe renal impairment or end stage renal disease (eGFR ≤29 mL/min/1.73 m²) have not been established due to insufficient data.

Hepatic impairment

A dedicated hepatic impairment study compared the systemic exposure of apalutamide and N-desmethyl apalutamide in subjects with baseline mild hepatic impairment (N=8, Child-Pugh Class A, mean score = 5.3) or moderate hepatic impairment (N=8, Child-Pugh Class B, mean score = 7.6) versus healthy controls with normal hepatic function (N=8). Following a single oral 240 mg dose of apalutamide, the geometric mean ratio (GMR) for AUC and Cmax for apalutamide in subjects with mild impairment was 95% and 102%, respectively, and the GMR for AUC and Cmax of apalutamide in subjects with moderate impairment was 113% and 104%, respectively, compared to healthy control subjects. Clinical and pharmacokinetic data for apalutamide are not available for patients with severe hepatic impairment (Child-Pugh Class C).

Ethnicity and race

Based on population pharmacokinetic analysis, there were no clinically relevant differences in apalutamide pharmacokinetics between White (Caucasian or Hispanic or Latino; N=761), Black (of African heritage or African American; N=71), Asian (non-Japanese; N=58) and Japanese (N=58).


Population pharmacokinetic analyses showed that age (range: 18 to 94 years) does not have a clinically meaningful influence on the pharmacokinetics of apalutamide.

Preclinical safety data

Apalutamide was negative for genotoxicity in a standard battery of in vitro and in vivo tests. Long-term animal studies have not been conducted to evaluate the carcinogenic potential of apalutamide.

Male fertility is likely to be impaired by treatment with apalutamide based on findings in repeat-dose toxicology studies which were consistent with the pharmacological activity of apalutamide. In repeat-dose toxicity studies in male rats and dogs, atrophy, aspermia/hypospermia, degeneration and/or hyperplasia or hypertrophy in the reproductive system were observed at doses corresponding to exposures approximately equal to the human exposure based on AUC.

In a fertility study in male rats, a decrease in sperm concentration and motility, copulation and fertility rates (upon pairing with untreated females) along with reduced weights of the secondary sex glands and epididymis were observed following 4 weeks of dosing at doses corresponding to exposures approximately equal to the human exposure based on AUC. Effects on male rats were reversible after 8 weeks from the last apalutamide administration.

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