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Patenting of nanopharmaceuticals in drug delivery: no small issue.

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  • 1University of the Witwatersrand, Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Parktown, 2193, South Africa.


Nanotechnology is a rapidly evolving interdisciplinary field based on the manipulation of matter on a submicron scale, encompassing matter between 1 and 100 nanometers (nm). The currently registered nanotechnology patents comprise 35 countries being involved in the global distribution of these patents. Close to 3000 patents were issued in the USA since 1996 with the term 'nano' in the patents, with a considerable number having application in nanomedicine. The large majority of therapeutic patents are focused on drug delivery systems, highlighting an important application globally. Nanopharmaceutical patents are centered mainly on non-communicable diseases, with cancer receiving the greatest focus, followed by hepatitis. Drug delivery systems employing nanotechnology have the ability to allow superior drug absorption, controlled drug release and reduced side-effects, enhancing the effectiveness of existing drug delivery systems. Nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems may be among the first types of products to generate serious nanotechnology patent disputes as the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry begins to adopt them. This review article aimed to locate patented nanopharmaceuticals in drug delivery online, employing pertinent key terms while searching the patent databases. Awarded and pending patents in the past 20 years pertaining to nanopharmaceutical or nano-enabled systems such as micelles, nanoemulsions, nanogels, liposomes, nanofibres, dendrimer technology and polymer therapeutics are presented in the review article, providing an overview of the diversity of the patent applications.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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