American Journal of Drug Delivery

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 171–186

Intraoral drug delivery

A comparative review
Healthcare Technology Review

DOI: 10.2165/00137696-200301030-00003

Cite this article as:
Danckwerts, M.P. Am J Drug Deliv (2003) 1: 171. doi:10.2165/00137696-200301030-00003


The oral availability of many drugs is poor because of the pH of the stomach, the presence of enzymes, and extensive first-pass metabolism. Traditionally, these drugs have been administered as parenteral drug delivery systems, which invariably leads to poor patient compliance. This has made the pharmaceutical industry look for alternative routes of drug delivery.

One possible route is via the oral cavity. This review compares the many different and novel drug delivery systems that have been developed for absorption through the oral cavity as well as those that undergo quick disintegration or dissolution in the oral cavity. Systems for oral delivery include mucoadhesive patches, films and tablets, as well as quick-disintegrating wafers, tablets and films. There are many examples of drugs that have been formulated into intraoral absorptive drug delivery systems as well as quick-disintegrating drug delivery systems.

The fact that most of the research being conducted on intraoral drug delivery systems is driven by pharmaceutical manufacturers demonstrates the need for such drug delivery systems. As we begin to discover more about oral mucosal drug delivery, and develop much more sophisticated drug delivery systems, many more drugs will be formulated as intraoral systems. There is no doubt that the need for these systems is real, and many classes of drugs could benefit from this noninvasive type of drug delivery. The challenge now is to synthesize drug moieties that exhibit increased absorption across the oral mucosa and are more potent in their action. Intraoral drug delivery systems are possibly one of the very few drug delivery systems that seem to be ahead of the development of new drug compounds that are effectively absorbed across tissue membranes.

Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of the WitwatersrandParktown, JohannesburgSouth Africa