Absorption of quaternary ammonium and sulfonium compounds from the GI tract is incomplete and unpredictable, due to the limited ability of these ionized substances to penetrate cell membranes and depression of propulsive movements of the small intestine and gastric emptying.
Absorption of mecamylamine is less erratic, but reduced bowel activity and paralytic ileus are a danger. After absorption, the quaternary ammonium- and sulfonium-blocking agents are confined primarily to the extracellular space and are excreted mostly unchanged by the kidney. Mecamylamine concentrates in the liver and kidney and is excreted slowly in an unchanged form.
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