Drug delivery is the process of administering a pharmaceutical formulation to humans or animals, to achieve a particular therapeutic effect. Drug delivery systems are patent protected technologi...
Drug delivery is the process of administering a pharmaceutical formulation to humans or animals, to achieve a particular therapeutic effect. Drug delivery systems are patent protected technologies that alter drug release profile, distribution, absorption, and elimination. They provide the advantage of improving product efficiency and safety, along with patient convenience and compliance.
Most common routes of drug administration include topical (skin), non-invasive peroral (through the mouth), and transmucosal (nasal, ocular, rectal, buccal, and vaginal). A number of medications such as proteins, peptides, antibodies, gene-based drugs, etc., cannot be directly administered using these routes as they are susceptible to enzymatic degradation, or may not be used for systemic circulation competently due to molecular size and charge issues. These problems may also render them therapeutically ineffective. Hence, many of these medications are administered using advanced drug delivery systems that utilize modern, biotechnology-based techniques and biomaterials to deliver drugs effectively.
Recent developments in the field of drug delivery include targeted delivery systems in which the drug is only active in the target tissue/organ of the body (for instance, in case of cancer tissues) and also sustained (or controlled) release formulations in which the drug is released gradually, over a period of time, from a formulation. Varieties of sustained release formulations incorporate technologies such as liposomes, drug loaded biodegradable microspheres, drug-polymer conjugates, and transdermal patches loaded with the drug. New Drug Delivery Systems (NDDS) involving advanced technology for drug delivery include sustained-release dosage forms (oral, injectable, topical), prodrugs, implants and IUDs, transdermal patches, liposomes, micelles, nanoparticles, polymers, monoclonal antibodies, gene therapy, PEGylation, and microencapsulation. These can be administered via buccal, rectal, ocular, vaginal, nasal, and transdermal routes.
Researchers are increasingly using advanced scientific methods like micro and nanotechnology in the development of these systems. Over the past decade, polymer micelles, polymeric microspheres, hydrogel-based materials, needle-free technologies, and protein-coated microcrystal systems have been used to enhance drug targeting specificity, improve absorption rates, lower systemic drug toxicity, and provide protection against biochemical degradation. In developing countries, where availability of skilled doctors, sterile needles, clean syringes, and sophisticated treatments is less, drug administration methods that permit safe treatment of patients are as important as any other development in the pharmaceutical sector.
New drug delivery technologies are positively affecting the global pharmaceutical industry, by enabling product lifecycle extension when its patent is about to expire. This is of tremendous importance to pharmaceutical manufacturers as patent expiration means rapid loss of millions of dollars in annual sales. Also, these technologies are revenue boosters for the pharmaceutical industry as they provide a competitive edge to the drug by enhancing its safety and efficacy. Further, expansion of applications of non-conventional modes of drug delivery such as pulmonary, nasal, and transdermal, especially in chronic disease conditions such as diabetes and CNS disorders, are very important for growth of the market. Some examples include innovations such as microneedle transdermal patches and novel intelligent inhalers. Key players in this market include Acura Pharmaceuticals Inc., Nanospectra Biosciences Inc., Skinvisible Inc., Lipoxen plc, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Bioject Medical Technologies Inc., CyDex Inc., Nektar Therapeutics, and Baxter BioPharma Solutions.