Transdermal Patch: An Alternative Drug Delivery

From swallowing pills to injections, infusions, topical application, and the like, there are various ways of delivering medication and other helpful substances into the human body. Each of these conventional approaches has its own advantages and disadvantages, uses and applications. If you guessed right, transdermal patches are one of the newest, highly effective drug delivery systems today. In addition to having numerous benefits of conventional drug delivery modes, transdermal patch products are available in a wide variety of options that users can go for depending on their intended results, needs, and medical requirements. 

In this article, we’ll define the transdermal patch as an alternative drug delivery approach, look at several types and highlight the various benefits of transdermal delivery.

What Are Transdermal Patches?

These are drug-containing patches that attach to the skin to deliver the medicinal drug via absorption through the lining of the skin into the bloodstream. In most cases, the user or patient is required to leave the patch in place for several hours within which the drug or active substance is gradually absorbed and delivered into the body. It is often considered by many, a more comfortable and convenient option compared to taking pills or injections. From nicotine to hormones, supplements, and therapeutic drugs, transdermal patches are a popular drug delivery system for a wide range of substances into the body. This brings us to the next important question… what are the various types and uses of transdermal patches?

Popular Types of Transdermal Patches 

Nicotine patch:

All around the world, many people are trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle, which includes cutting back on habits such as alcohol use and smoking. If you’ve been trying to quit smoking, higher chances are that you’ve at least heard of the nicotine patch, which is the most popular type of transdermal patches. Studies have actually shown that in the US, the nicotine patch is the highest-selling transdermal patch. The patch contains nicotine as the active substance, which is released in controlled levels to help curb the urge to smoke and ultimately help the user to quit the substance. It is basically used to treat nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

Supplement patches:

Transdermal patches have over the past few years, found a wide range of applications in the nutraceutical industry. They are specifically used to deliver nutritional supplement ingredients that help improve weight loss, increase energy, enhance appetite, and assist with fitness, from multivitamins to natural, organic, and herbal supplements. When trying to get into better shape, Earl Hailey from Patch MD recommends taking Garcinia Cambogia to boost your energy, which makes you more motivated to exercise. Garcinia also acts by stimulating the body to burn more fat from the energy boost, which helps reduce excess weight.

Other common types under this category may include iron, omega-3, CoQ10, Vitamin B, and Vitamin C patches, just to name a few. The best thing about these patches is that you don’t have to worry about digestive tract issues. Since transdermal patches also make the active ingredients more available to the body (as we’ll discuss later below), you can get maximum benefits by just using a minimal amount of the supplement. Natural and organic options that are free from gluten, lactose, sugar, and synthetic additives are also available.

Hormonal and reproductive health patches:

Due to factors such as aging, poor diet, genetics, and underlying medical conditions, many people suffer from hormonal imbalances and disorders. In many of these cases, hormonal therapy is often recommended, and transdermal patches are one of the ways hormones such as estrogen are delivered into the body. Those with low testosterone levels can also benefit from testosterone transdermal patches like Androde and Intrinsa, whereas those who are trying to prevent getting pregnant can go for contraceptive patches such as Evra or Ortho Evra.

Medications in patch form:  

There is also a wide range of medicinal drugs available in transdermal patches. Fentanyl, for instance, is a popular pain relief drug that is available in patch form. Another notable example is clonidine a popular antihypertensive drug used to treat HBP. Other examples of medications available in transdermal patch form include:

Nitroglycerin – used to treat angina

Scopolamine – used to treat motion sickness and nausea

Transdermal MAOI selegiline – an antidepressant

Daytrana/methylphenidate – used to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder)

Transdermal Rivastigmine – used to treat Alzheimer’s disease

Benefits of Transdermal Patch Delivery

As mentioned earlier, transdermal drug delivery has various advantages over most conventional delivery systems such as oral, intravenous, topical, and intramuscular delivery. The benefits outweigh the risks by far. One of the biggest advantages is that with transdermal delivery, the drug is released gradually in controlled amounts into the body. The patch may contain thin sheets of the active substance embedded in an adhesive, which is gradually melted by body heat and absorbed by the skin. The medication may also be covered by a porous membrane on the patch, which allows only specific amounts through. Other benefits of transdermal patches include:

Constant dosage amounts – thanks to the controlled approach, the active substance in the drug is delivered constantly in the body through transdermal patches.

Increased bioavailability – Also, the delivery system avoids the digestive tract, where, in the case of oral drugs, a considerable amount of the active ingredient is lost to metabolic processes as well as the action of the liver. Additionally, some drugs cannot be (fully) absorbed in the GIT, making it harder for them to reach the bloodstream and perform the desired actions. This makes transdermal patches a more suitable alternative. This also significantly reduces the amount of active substance required for therapy or the intended purpose.

Safety and ease of use – transdermal patches are also incredibly easy to use. You don’t have to struggle with swallowing or organizing the bottles, and the chances of skipping a dose are also minimal. You also don’t have to worry about intestinal side effects and discomforts, nor will you have to face injection-related anxieties or trypanophobia, which is often called needle phobia. When delivered in transdermal patches, the drug or active substance bypasses your gut and enters the blood directly without pricking. Compared to oral drug delivery, the risk of drug interactions is also reduced, meaning that you can use a transdermal patch even when on other medications.

Are Transdermal Patches Safe?

Apart from mild side effects such as localized itching, redness and (rarely) edema, transdermal patches are indeed safe. As a matter of fact, most of these mild effects occur as a result of skin damage as one removes the patch or when the active substance mixes with some lotions, soap residues, and other skincare products.

In conclusion, transdermal patches are a cutting edge delivery system for therapeutic drugs and other helpful substances in the body. They are easy to use, comfortable, and convenient. Even though not all drugs may be available in transdermal patch form, you’d bet research on their development is still ongoing, amid the many benefits they provide as an alternative drug delivery system.  

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