A pharmacist discussing the benefits of deuterium in the pharmaceutical industry

The Deuterium atom (D) can slow the rate at which the body metabolizes drugs. It is found naturally in the human body and is safe for use as a component of therapeutic drugs. Since deuterium and protium have very similar chemical properties, deuterium can substitute for protium in the manufacture of certain drugs.

A wide shot of a pharmaceutical conference that Isowater Corporation attened to showcase their bulk heavy water supply capabilities

Thus, deuterium does not materially alter the drug’s therapeutic benefits. Metabolic studies have shown that deuterium containing drugs or deuterated drugs generally retain full potency and effectiveness, but the slower metabolism of deuterium containing drugs often allows for longer effective benefit, smaller or less frequent doses and fewer side effects of the drug. How does deuterium slow the metabolism rate of a drug? Deuterium forms a stronger chemical bond within the drug molecule than does protium. Since drug metabolism often involves the breaking of such chemical bonds, a stronger bond means slower drug metabolism.

Deuterium oxide is used to create many compounds labeled with deuterium including deuterated intermediates for pharmaceuticals.