There are five major advantages of transdermal patches above other systems
- Improved well-being of the patient
- Constant drug levels
- Fewer side effects
- Drugs that cannot be absorbed via the gastrointestinal tract can now be used
- Because the substance is released evenly and directly into the bloodstream, less of the substance may be required
1. Improved well-being of the patient
The overwhelming majority of all drugs is available as tablets or capsules and thus has to be taken orally. For patients who have difficulty swallowing, this method of treatment can be very unpleasant. Many patients also have problems with taking medication regularly – it is easy to forget to take a tablet and then therapy success can no longer be guaranteed. A patch can replace the need to take lots of tablets, with typical treatment intervals between 24 hours and seven days. By contrast, conventional delivery systems such as tablets or capsules only provide the drug required over a very limited period of time (from a few hours up to one day at a time). Patches, however, are able to release the drug as required overnight, so that the patient’s sleep is not interrupted.
2. Constant drug levels
All drugs that are administered orally and then go through the gastrointestinal tract first have to pass through the liver. Depending on the drug in question, a significant amount of the medication as taken is metabolised by the liver. The remaining amount of the drug is continually reduced as a result of the body’s metabolic processes. As a result, the amount of drug actually available to the body varies greatly from a very high amount straight after taking the medication to a very low amount at the end of the application interval. By contrast, a transdermal patch ensures a constant level of the drug in question, such as pain relief medication, for example. Equilibrium is established between the amount of the substance absorbed from the patch and the amount required by the body, i.e. the body simply absorbs what it needs. The concentration of the substance in the body is always in the ideal range for the drug in question.
3. Fewer side effects
Many drugs not only offer the desired effects but also have lots of undesirable side effects. Substances administered orally primarily result in gastrointestinal side effects, such as nausea. Not only does the patient suffer directly as a consequence – so does his or her willingness to start or continue therapy as medically prescribed. Transdermal absorption significantly reduces most of these side effects. In addition, many substances taken orally also suffer as a result of ‘food effect’. This means that their absorption by the body is greatly influenced by whether or not food is consumed at the same time. This can result in changes to the body’s pH level. As a result, patients have to take note of whether the medication should be taken before or after meals. Since transdermal patches enable the body to absorb the substance directly, this is no longer necessary. One of the most serious side effects related to medication is liver toxicity, which means that some drugs can damage the liver. The use of LTS-TTS patches may also result in a significant reduction in side effects associated with liver damage.