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Transdermal Drug Delivery: Penetration Enhancement Techniques

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There is considerable interest in the skin as a site of drug application both for local and systemic effect. However, the skin, in particular the stratum corneum, poses a formidable barrier to drug penetration thereby limiting topical and transdermal bioavailability. Skin penetration enhancement techniques have been developed to improve bioavailability and increase the range of drugs for which topical and transdermal delivery is a viable option. This review describes enhancement techniques based on drug / vehicle optimisation such as drug selection, prodrugs and ion-pairs, supersaturated drug solutions, eutectic systems, complexation, liposomes, vesicles and particles. Enhancement via modification of the stratum corneum by hydration, chemical enhancers acting on the structure of the stratum corneum lipids and keratin, partitioning and solubility effects are also discussed. The mechanism of action of penetration enhancers and retarders and their potential for clinical application is described.
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Keywords: enhancer; retarder; skin penetration; transdermal delivery

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Western Australian Biomedical Research Institute, School of Pharmacy, Curtin University of Technology, GPO Box U1987, Perth, Western Australia 6845.

Publication date: 01 January 2005

More about this publication?
  • The aim of Current Drug Delivery is to publish peer-reviewed articles, short communications, short and in-depth reviews in the rapidly developing field of drug delivery. Modern drug research aims to build in delivery properties of a drug at the design phase, however in many cases this ideal cannot be met and the development of delivery systems becomes as important as the development as the drugs themselves.

    The journal aims to cover the latest outstanding developments in drug and vaccine delivery employing physical, physico-chemical and chemical methods. The drugs include a wide range of bioactive compounds from simple pharmaceuticals to peptides, proteins, nucleotides, nucleosides and sugars. The journal will also report progress in the fields of transport routes and mechanisms including efflux proteins and multi-drug resistance.

    The journal is essential for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug design, development and delivery.
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