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New Ibuprofen Skin Patch Being Developed

December 14, 2015
A novel delivery method eliminates gastrointestinal complications and could improve patient safety, particularly for those taking high daily doses.

Ibuprofen can be useful for providing relief from pain, fever, and inflammation. However, like most nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), taking ibuprofen in its oral form can raise the risks of developing upper gastrointestinal (GI) complications, especially with high daily doses.1 Doctors may soon have an alternative method of delivering ibuprofen to their patients, though.

Researchers in the United Kingdom currently are developing an ibuprofen patch that could make it possible to deliver ibuprofen through the skin, as opposed to taking it orally. The researchers, based at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, said they intend to have the patch on the market in 2 years. The technology for the adhesive patch could be utilized for other drugs, as well.

“Many commercial patches surprisingly don’t contain any pain relief agents at all, they simply soothe the body by a warming effect," said David Haddleton, PhD, a professor at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England. "Our technology now means that we can for the first time produce patches that contain effective doses of active ingredients such as ibuprofen for which no patches currently exist. Also, we can improve the drug loading and stickiness of patches containing other active ingredients to improve patient comfort and outcome,”

Developed in coordination with Medherant, a Coventry-based bioadhesives company, the transparent patch reportedly can deliver a consistent, high dose of ibuprofen spread over a 12-hour period.

Utilizing polymer technology licensed from global adhesive company Bostik, the new Medherant patch can hold a significant drug load—up to 30% of its own weight—that is 5 to 10 times greater than some current medical patches and gels, according to the company’s press release.2

"If this transdermal ibuprofen patch does gain approval in the United States, it may be especially useful for those patients with localized pain from sprains or strains or those with arthritis," noted Michael Gabay, PharmD, JD, BCPS, Clinical Associate Professor of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL. "In addition, those patients who experience adverse effects, such as gastrointestinal effects, from the use of oral ibuprofen may benefit from administration of the transdermal patch."

The patch is designed to have a stronger adhesion than other commercial products, which allows it to remain stuck well to the skin despite its heavier weight, while still being comfortable enough to remove. While there are a number of ibuprofen topical gels currently available on the market, applying these medicines can be less convenient than the drier method of a discrete, transparent patch. It can also be difficult to control dosage levels when applying an ibuprofen gel, which increases the risk of toxicity, while the Medherant patch is designed to deliver the drug at a constant rate over a longer period of time.

The patch could be a major step forward to providing a safer delivery method of high daily doses of ibuprofen, also helping to avoid the upper GI complications commonly associated with oral ibuprofen, and according to Dr. Haddleton, the patch even could open the door for other drugs that were previously incompatible with patch technology.

“There are only a limited number of existing polymers that have the right characteristics to be used for this type of transdermal patches—that will stick to the skin and not leave residues when being easily removed. Furthermore, there are also only a limited number of drugs that will dissolve into these existing polymers. Medherant’s technology now opens up the field of transdermal drug delivery to previously non-compatible drugs,” he said.

According to Nigel Davis, CEO of Medherant, the company currently is developing plans to have the drug available globally and is looking to move towards FDA and EMEA approvals in the future.

The patch also has been tested with methyl salicylate, an ester commonly utilized as an analgesic in deep heating liniments, like Bengay (Johnson & Johnson). Dr. Haddleton believes the patch’s technology could be used for many other over the counter and prescription drugs, as they are currently “seeking opportunities to test a much wider range of drugs and treatments.”


Last updated on: December 17, 2015
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