More drug patches expected to hit market, but are they safe?

hand hold patch 128x150 More drug patches expected to hit market, but are they safe?More than 40 drug development programs have transdermal systems, or drug patches, under development for either initial approval or expanded indications, according to Pharma Live. But can consumers trust their safety record?

Transdermal patches were introduced in the 1990s initially for birth control, as a treatment for angina or heart failure, and for smoking cessation. Today, drug patches have branched out to other approved therapies including neurology, pain management and urology and some, like the nicotine patch, are now available over the counter as well.

Patches offer an alternative delivery system that may benefit some consumers. For example, the Ortho Evra birth control patch is marketed to younger women who would rather wear the patch that is changed weekly instead of taking a daily pill. However the delivery system of some patches have raised serious questions about their safety.

In January, we told you about Johnson & Johnson recalling its Duragesic fentanyl pain patch – the fifth recall of the pain patches since 1994 – because it leaked too much medicine into the bloodstream, making it highly addictive and resulting in deaths. The same company’s birth control patch, Ortho Evra, has also been blamed for leaking too much medicine into the bloodstream leading to pulmonary embolisms and strokes. The company already has settled several lawsuits charging that its Ortho Evra birth control patch has caused serious harm and even death.

Pharma Live says the demand for prescription drug patches is on the rise, especially among the elderly who may forget to take medications and may benefit from the patch system. Let’s hope the serious injuries caused by such patches don’t rise as well.