How Wearables Are Expanding Healthcare’s Frontiers

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By Staff Reports

(DGIwire) — With fashionably colored fitness trackers adorning more arms and more wrists, it is easy to think the future of wearable health technology has arrived. But wearables can do way more for peoples’ health than just track our steps, sleep and heartbeat. One form of “wearables”—patches that deliver drugs directly into the skin—continue to evolve.

For example, patches have been used to deliver nicotine (in controlled doses) to help curb tobacco smoking; estrogen to treat menopausal symptoms; nitroglycerin to treat angina; and many more substances for many other conditions. Aside from their sheer versatility, patches offer another great advantage that make them quite popular with doctors and patients alike: they can deliver a drug both locally and systemically, ensuring that the treatment minimizes potential adverse effects that are associated with drugs administered in pill form.

Patch technology continues to evolve. One goal is to use less drug to achieve an equally effective response. This could mean less undelivered drug remaining in the patch. This excess medicine can present a hazard if a discarded patch is found by pets or children. It also adds to the initial expense of a patch. Work is also being done to enhance drug delivery by modifying patch design so it is more flexible with better adhesive properties. If the patch stays in place longer because it adheres and is flexible, it can deliver a greater percentage of drug from the patch to the skin. Advances like these could potentially provide better treatments more efficiently.

“We are developing a patch to deliver pain medicine through the skin—a patch that is designed to be flexible and has the ability to stick for the entire time it should be worn, helping to ensure that the drug is delivered efficiently,” says Anthony P. Mack, CEO of Scilex Pharmaceuticals, a pharmaceutical company based in Malvern, PA. The company’s first product candidate is currently under review by the FDA.

The coming generation of innovative patch technology may shape how certain painful conditions are treated in coming years, giving both doctors and patients new options.

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