Formulation considerations in the design of topical, polymeric film-forming systems for sustained drug delivery to the skin

Kit Frederiksen, Richard H. Guy, Karsten Petersson

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Polymeric film-forming systems (FFSs) are potential drug delivery systems for topical application to the skin. The FFSs form thin and transparent polymeric films in situ upon solvent evaporation. Their application convenience and cosmetic attributes, superior to conventional semi-solids, may offer improved patient compliance. This study represents the first phase of an investigation into the use of FFSs for prolonged dermal drug delivery. FFS formulations were distinguished based on their ability to sustain the release of betamethasone 17-valerate (BMV) in vitro over 72 h. The effect of film-forming polymer (hydrophilic: hydroxypropyl cellulose (Klucel™ LF); hydrophobic: polymethacrylate copolymers (Eudragit® NE and Eudragit® RS), and polyacrylate copolymer (Dermacryl® 79) was first determined, and then the impact of incorporation of plasticisers (triethyl citrate, tributyl citrate, and dibutyl sebacate) was examined. The Klucel film released a significantly higher amount of BMV than the hydrophobic FFS, 42 versus 4 μg/cm2, respectively. The release was increased when a plasticiser was incorporated, and with higher enhancement ratios achieved with the more lipophilic plasticisers. In conclusion, the results show that FFSs can sustain drug release (hence representing useful systems for prolonged dermal therapy) and emphasise the importance of the formulation on drug delivery, with the type of polymer being of greatest significance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-15
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics
Early online date13 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


  • Betamethasone 17-valerate
  • In vitro release
  • Keywords Dermal drug delivery
  • Plasticiser
  • Polymeric film-forming systems
  • Sustained release


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