Magazine article Drug Topics

Are Transdermal Patches the Way of the Future?

Magazine article Drug Topics

Are Transdermal Patches the Way of the Future?

Article excerpt

This past April, methylphenidate (Daytrana, Shire) was approved as a transdermal drug delivery system (TD-DDS) for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. And many more patches are on the horizon. Novartis is seeking Food & Drug Administration approval for its rivastigmine (Exelon) patch to aid in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Researchers in the United Kingdom are working on a TD-DDS to deliver synthetic cannabinoids for use as antiemetics and appetite stimulants in patients with AIDS and cancer.

Another potential newcomer is a painless, precisely controlled and timed microjet technology patch that may eliminate invasive patenterai administration of certain drugs. "Microneedles offer a major advantage in transdermal delivery because they can surpass the stratum corneum and access live dermis," said Greg Knipp, Ph.D., professor of industrial and physical pharmacy at Purdue University. "Representing a multifunctional platform, a single patch may potentially deliver peptides in a controlled-release manner by using different layers of microneedles that could theoretically deliver an initial rapid-release, bolus-type dose followed by a sustained-release medication."

According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) news office, MTT researchers have shown that a technology known as sonophoresis, which incorporates ultrasound into patches, has the potential to aid in transdermal transport of large protein molecules such as insulin. Iontophoresis, another new technology, uses electrical currents to allow charged drug molecules to permeate the skin.

Also, a survey by Greystone Associates, a healthcare technology consulting firm in Amherst, N.H., reported that the removal of surface skin layers, or microporation, can be used alone or with energy-enabled devices to expand the size of drug molecules capable of transdermal delivery.

The popularity of patches can be attributed in part to their convenience for patients with difficulty swallowing, those who may be forgetful, and those taking numerous medications. And pharmacokinetically, patches are an important delivery vehicle for drugs with poor oral bioavailability. "One of the greatest issues the pharmaceutical industry is currently facing is the identification of highly potent, highly lipophilic compounds, many of which don't make it out of early-phase discovery and development," said Knipp. …

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