Current indications for transdermal drug delivery include contraception, pain management, hormone replacement therapy, and smoking cessation. Within pain management, lidocaine patches are used as a local anesthetic, while transdermal patches that contain fentanyl or butrans (both of which are narcotics) are for severe and chronic pain, and can have lethal effects if used incorrectly.
Within a couple of years, a solution could be available to treat pain that is not so severe that it requires a narcotic for relief. With the intent on developing an over-the-counter long-acting transdermal patch, researchers at the University of Warwick have collaborated with UK-based Medherant to create an Ibuprofen patch that works over a 12-hour period. The transparent adhesive patch is designed to provide consistent drug release over a prolonged period of time and can achieve drug loads up to 30% of the patch’s weight/volume. Researchers say the drug load is 5-10 times what is found in currently available patches.
The polymer technology used in the patch was developed by Bostik (Medherant received an exclusive license for transdermal use) and is “highly tacky” yet easy to remove. “Our transdermal patch technology expands the range of drugs that can be delivered via skin patches and can significantly increase drug loading capabilities, whilst retaining adhesion and being thin and flexible,” said Nigel Davis, CEO of Medherant in a company release. “Thus our patches provide a better experience for patients, enhance safety and deliver increased efficacy, which will lead to economic benefits to the healthcare system.” According to Davis, the company intends to go to market first with over-the-counter pain relief patches. In the future, it will look at opportunities with pharmaceutical companies to develop other transdermal drug delivery systems.
The global market for transdermal drug delivery technologies was worth about $13.5 billion in 2013 and is anticipated to experience an 11.1% compound annual growth rate, hitting $21.7 billion by 2018, according to MicroMarketMonitor.