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Nasal Drug Delivery - The Powder Advantage

The development of drug delivery technologies is a rapidly expanding sector of the pharmaceutical industry. In 2000, drug delivery systems accounted for US$16.28 billion (approximately 10 per cent of the total pharmaceutical market) and this is expected to grow to over US$27 billion by 2005 (1). With the development of ever more potent and complex molecules and the imminent expiration of many patents for major brands, novel delivery systems offer opportunities for both developmental and marketed compounds. Although modified oral delivery dominates this area, with almost 50 per cent of drug delivery projects in the major pharmaceutical companies utilising this route, there are many cases where oral delivery is not applicable. For example, many compounds - particularly macromolecules - are not adequately available via the oral route or are associated with adverse events. In addition, oral medication is not appropriate if the patient is suffering from nausea or vomiting, or has difficulty swallowing tablets or capsules as is often the case with children and the elderly. In these cases alternative routes of administration should be considered. This article explores delivery to the nasal cavity as one such alternative and details the advances made so far.

Nasal Drug Delivery

Traditionally, drugs have been administered intranasally for local effect. To treat conditions such as rhinitis, nasal congestion and so on. However, the nasal cavity provides a large and easily accessible area with highly permeable and vascularised tissue through which drugs can be absorbed rapidly and directly into the systemic circulation. In avoiding the gastro-intestinal tract and the effects of first pass metabolism, the nasal route offers the opportunity of administering smaller doses and reducing associated side effects. In addition, nasal drug delivery can present a convenient and patient-friendly alternative for drugs administration that would otherwise require injectable. This improves patient compliance, may allow patients to self-medicate and avoids exposing health workers to the risks of needle-stick injuries and bio-hazardous waste.


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By Pete Lambert, Technical Manager for Britannia Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

Pete Lambert is Technical Manager for Britannia Pharmaceuticals Ltd., where he is responsible for the project management of pharmaceutical development projects.

Pete oversees projects from the formulation definition stage to clinical evaluation and registration. He currently has technical responsibility for establishing Britannia's nasal division, based on novel delivery technologies for internal and out-licensing opportunities. In addition to technical expertise, he has particular knowledge in the area of drug delivery to the respiratory tract.

Pete earned a BSc degree in Pharmacy from Liverpool John Moores University, with specialisation in pharmaceutical technology and industrial pharmacy. He is a registered Pharmacist in both the UK and Australia.


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