Skin, the largest organ in the human body, is receptive to therapeutic and preventative drug delivery. This is especially useful for drugs that are poorly absorbed, or have severe side-effects or toxicity when delivered via oral and other routes. Drug delivery via the skin is also an alternate technique for non-compliant, hesitant, forgetful or unconscious patients. A recently published review summarizes the state-of-the-art transdermal drug delivery methods, as well as the associated pros and cons of this technique.
By Riaz A. Khan
Transdermal drug delivery – the transportation of drugs across the skin barrier – results in increased drug absorption, and consequently better availability of the drug at the site of action in the body. It is often a better choice for patients who are unconscious, hesitant, forgetful, or nauseated and vomiting, than the normal (e.g. oral or intravenous) drug administration routes.
Of the wide range of transdermal drug delivery methods, the skin-sticker patch is said to be the best option for continuous, low quantity drug supply with minimal side effects. Patches are commercially available for morning sickness, as well as for prolonged nausea and vomiting induced by surgery, cancer chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The use of patches also results in considerably fewer adverse reactions in patients with allergies to the same drug when delivered via oral formulations.
Nicotine patches, female contraceptive patches (which result in reduced liver damage compared to the corresponding oral formulations), post-menopausal estradiol patches to reduce the symptoms of menopause and prevent osteoporosis, as well as patches for hormone replacement therapy, are popular with millions of patients world-wide. Furthermore, patches for sustained insulin delivery and other vaccinations are at clinical trial stage and expected to be commercialized soon.
According to the authors of the review, recently published in the journal Biomedical Engineering, skin patches, as well as a variety of other transdermal drug delivery devices (such as microinjections), have already been clinically tested in various animal models and human volunteers, and have been found safe for human use. A number of products approved by regulatory bodies are commercially available worldwide from various pharmaceutical companies.
Transdermal drug delivery methods are advancing rapidly, with their accelerated capture of major economic and therapeutic targets in health sector markets being driven by attractive features of the technology, such as the ease of self-administration and the development of biodegradable alternatives.
To find out more, read the original article here:
Naseem Akhtar, Varsha Singh, Mohammad Yusuf and Riaz A. Khan: Non-invasive drug delivery technology: development and current status of transdermal drug delivery devices, techniques and biomedical applications, 11.01.2020.