University of Hertfordshire

Dermal and transdermal drug delivery systems: Current and future prospects

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature review

  • Marc Brown
  • Gary P. Martin
  • S. A. Jones
  • F. K. Akomeah
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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)175-187
JournalJournal of Drug Delivery Science and Technology
Journal publication date2006
Publication statusPublished - 2006


The protective function of human skin imposes physicochemical limitations to the type of permeant that can traverse the barrier. For a drug to be delivered passively via the skin it needs to have adequate lipophilicity and also a molecular weight < 500 Da. These requirements have limited the number of commercially available products based on transdermal or dermal delivery. Various strategies have emerged over recent years to optimize delivery and these can be categorized into passive and active methods. The passive approach entails the optimization of formulation or drug carrying vehicle to increase skin permeability. Passive methods, however do not greatly improve the permeation of drugs with molecular weights > 500 Da. In contrast active methods that normally involve physical or mechanical methods of enhancing delivery have been shown to be generally superior. Improved delivery has been shown for drugs of differing lipophilicity and molecular weight including proteins, peptides, and oligonucletides using electrical methods ( iontophoresis, electroporation), mechanical ( abrasion, ablation, perforation), and other energy- related techniques such as ultrasound and needless injection. However, for these novel delivery methods to succeed and compete with those already on the market, the prime issues that require consideration include device design and safety, efficacy, ease of handling, and cost- effectiveness. This article provides a detailed review of the next generation of active delivery technologies.

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