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J Control Release. 2005 Mar 21;103(2):301-13. Epub 2005 Jan 13.

The vagina as a route for systemic drug delivery.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, Texas Tech University, Health Sciences Center, 1300 Coulter Drive, Amarillo, TX 79106, USA.


Exhaustive efforts have been made toward the administration of drugs, via alternative routes, that are poorly absorbed after the oral administration. The vagina as a route of drug delivery has been known since ancient times. In recent years, the vaginal route has been rediscovered as a potential route for systemic delivery of peptides and other therapeutically important macromolecules. However, successful delivery of drugs through the vagina remains a challenge, primarily due to the poor absorption across the vaginal epithelium. The rate and extent of drug absorption after intravaginal administration may vary depending on formulation factors, vaginal physiology, age of the patient and menstrual cycle. Suppositories, creams, gels, tablets and vaginal rings are commonly used vaginal drug delivery systems. The purpose of this communication is to provide the reader with a summary of advances made in the field of vaginal drug delivery. This report, therefore, summarizes various vaginal drug delivery systems with an introduction to vaginal physiology and factors affecting drug absorption from the vaginal route.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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