Although oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are effective in the treatment of a variety of acute and chronic pain conditions, their use may be associated with serious systemic adverse effects, particularly gastrointestinal disorders. In order to minimise the incidence of systemic events related to such agents, topical NSAIDs have been developed. Topical NSAIDs, applied as gels, creams or sprays, penetrate the skin, subcutaneous fatty tissue and muscle in amounts that are sufficient to exert a therapeutic effect on peripheral and central mechanisms in the absence of high plasma concentrations. Data indicate that topical NSAIDs are effective at relieving pain in a number of acute and chronic pain indications.
This review article discusses the pharmacokinetics, efficacy and tolerability of a new formulation of ketoprofen available as a topical patch. The topical patch containing ketoprofen 100mg as the active principle has been developed using a novel delivery system that dispenses therapeutic doses of the drug directly to the site of injury.
Pharmacokinetic data indicate that although plasma levels of ketoprofen are higher when the drug is administered as a patch versus a gel, the total systemic bioavailability of ketoprofen 100mg administered via a patch is no more than 10% of that reported for ketoprofen 100mg administered orally. Because the patch facilitates ketoprofen delivery over a 24-hour period, the drug remains continually present in the tissue subjacent to the site of application. High tissue but low plasma ketoprofen concentrations mean that while tissue concentrations are high enough to exert a therapeutic effect, plasma concentrations remain low enough to not result in systemic adverse events caused by elevated serum NSAID levels. Phase III clinical trials in patients with non-articular rheumatism and traumatic painful soft tissue injuries showed that the topical ketoprofen patch was significantly more effective than placebo at reducing pain during daily activities and spontaneous pain after 7 days’ treatment. Moreover, the topical ketoprofen patch was well tolerated; adverse events were primarily cutaneous in nature and occurred in a similar number of ketoprofen and placebo recipients suggesting that these events were related to the patch itself rather than the active ingredient. The incidence of gastrointestinal adverse events was low (<8% of all patients), and occurred in a similar proportion of patients receiving ketoprofen and placebo.
Thus, the topical ketoprofen patch appears to be a simple, effective and safe therapeutic option for the treatment of local painful inflammation.
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No external funding was provided for this study. BM was the principal investigator for two trials of topical ketoprofen patch referred to in this review and received fees for writing the protocols, participating in the blind reviews, supervising the final reports and writing the two papers. BM has also undertaken educational activities with the Zambon Group, but is totally independent of the company and declares no conflict of interest.
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