Pain Relief by Patch, not Pill

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151208081811_1_540x360If you ever had a headache or muscle pull, chances are you've reached for the Motrin or Advil. For most, that's a very common pain-relief solution. But since ibuprofen is consumed orally, that can cause some to suffer upset stomachs. As an alternative, enter the ibuprofen patch.

The scientists at the University of Warwick in England and its spinoff company, Medherant, have designed a patch that delivers a concentrated dose of the drug through the skin. Executives, which call it the world s first ibuprofen patch, say it should make it to market in two years, according to the company.

There are many patches on the market used for delivering certain types of medicine, such as nicotine patches for smoking cessation, scopolamine patches for motion sickness and IcyHot patches containing menthol to soothe pain. The ibuprofen patch will be the first non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for systemic absorption, not just local pain relief.

NSAID gels, such as Voltaren a drug used for relieving pain in knees, ankles, feet, wrists, and hands and with minimal systemic absorption may be applied to the skin. (However, it has not been studied for pain relief to the spine, hip, or shoulder.) Yet, it requires a prescription, unlike the ibuprofen patch.

The transparent patch will be made of specially developed polymer matrix, which is sticky enough to adhere to the skin regardless of its high drug content (up to 30 percent of the patch s weight). The patch can deliver a high dose of the painkiller for 12 hours at a steady rate, directly to the area that needs it. The ideal way of using the ibuprofen patch could help those with chronic conditions, such as back pain or arthritis, without risking side effects like heart attacks and strokes with high oral dosages.

Nigel Davis, Medherant's CEO and co- developer of the patch, calls it a next generation transdermal drug-delivery platform. The development of the patch could have implications for other drugs beyond ibuprofen, and further testing is planned.