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Drugs Aging. 2008;25(4):269-80.

Use of transdermal drug formulations in the elderly.

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1
Pharmacy, University Hospitals of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland. Laure.Z.Kaestli@hcuge.ch

Abstract

Transdermal drug delivery systems are pharmaceutical forms designed to administer a drug through the skin to obtain a systemic effect. They ensure a constant rate of drug administration and a prolonged action. Several different types of transdermal delivery devices are available on the market. They are either matrix or reservoir systems and their main current uses are to treat neurological disorders, pain and coronary artery disease, and as hormone replacement therapy. Transdermal drug administration has a number of advantages compared with the oral route: it avoids gastrointestinal absorption and hepatic first-pass metabolism, minimizes adverse effects arising from peak plasma drug concentrations and improves patient compliance. Compared with the parenteral route, transdermal administration entails no risk of infection. For elderly people, who are often polymedicated, transdermal drug delivery can be a good alternative route of administration. Transdermal absorption depends on passive diffusion through the different layers of the skin. As skin undergoes many structural and functional changes with increasing age, it would be useful to know whether these alterations affect the transdermal diffusion of drugs. Studies have shown that age-related changes in hydration and lipidic structure result in an increased barrier function of the stratum corneum only for relatively hydrophilic compounds. In practice, no significant differences in absorption of drugs from transdermal delivery systems have been demonstrated between young and old individuals. The need for dose adaptation in elderly patients using transdermal drug delivery systems is therefore not related to differences in skin absorption but rather to age-related cardiovascular, cerebral, hepatic and/or renal compromise, and to ensuing geriatric pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic changes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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