Practical Considerations for Optimal Transdermal Drug Delivery

Cheryl Durand; Abdullah Alhammad; Kristine C. Willett


Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2012;69(2):116-124. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Purpose The properties of various transdermal drug delivery system (TDDS) products are reviewed, with safety recommendations and guidance on addressing questions frequently posed by patients and caregivers.
Summary Drug delivery via a TDDS can offer many advantages over other methods of administration, but those benefits can be compromised by improper use or alteration of medication patches or a lack of awareness of the properties of different patch types (reservoir, matrix, drug-in-adhesive). To assess current TDDS technologies and recommended practices for safe and effective use of medication patches, a literature search for articles on commonly used TDDS products available in the United States was conducted; supplemental information was obtained from package inserts and through direct communication with manufacturers. In addition to recommendations on the site and duration of TDDS application and proper patch disposal, clinicians must consider (1) potential problems with cutting patches as a method of dosage adjustment, (2) safety concerns related to the electric conductivity of metal-containing patches, (3) appropriate strategies for managing patch adhesion failures, and (4) the advisability of writing on patches for medication safety or compliance reasons. Clinicians should also be prepared to counsel patients about TDDS-specific recommendations on the avoidance of sunlight and other external heat sources during the use of a medication patch.
Conclusion Practical considerations related to transdermal drug delivery include the appropriateness of cutting patches, the implications of their containing metallic components, and whether they may be covered with tape or written on. Manufacturers of patches provide some useful information on these topics.


With the administration of medication via a transdermal drug delivery system (TDDS), or medication patch, come several practical considerations. Questions about whether a particular patch can be cut or contains metal and questions about the appropriateness of covering patches with tape or writing on them are commonly posed by both patients and caregivers. Additionally, it is important to be aware of recommendations on the site of application, duration of application, proper disposal, and avoidance of external heat. Each of these considerations is discussed in this article.

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