When a medication is taken orally, it needs to travel through the digestive system before it reaches the bloodstream, and the liver has to process it before its effects can begin. Buccal drug delivery, on the other hand, presents an attractive alternative to traditional methods of oral administration of poorly absorbed molecules.
Buccal delivery is a way of administering medication through the mucous membrane inside the cheek using “Buccal films” (see Figure 1). This method allows medicine to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream without the need to first be broken down by the liver, which could make the medication more effective with fewer side effects. In addition, buccal delivery is more portable and comfortable for patients and can be used immediately before and after eating and drinking.
Buccal films are traditionally made using techniques such as “hot-melt extrusion” and “solvent casting,” but these methods have limitations such as poor solubility and temperature sensitivity, which can limit the efficiency and effectiveness for manufacturing. To address these challenges, scientists are exploring new methods to create more efficient and effective buccal films. Techniques like 2D and 3D printing, electrospraying, and electrospinning give scientists greater control over the final product, leading to more targeted drug delivery and better overall outcomes. In addition to manufacturing, researchers are also studying different materials to use in the films. Mucoadhesive polymers and plasticizers can enhance the way films function by improving their ability to stick to the lining of the cheek and increasing absorption.
In their review paper, Nair and colleagues discuss recent advancements in buccal film manufacturing, as well as the substances used in these films. The paper also highlights challenges in conducting preclinical and clinical trials with these films, although some small molecule products are already on the market. A major challenge is to use films and patches to administer large molecules including peptides. This has not yet been achieved.
Overall, buccal drug delivery through buccal films holds great promise for improving drug delivery and addressing patient preferences. By further exploring new manufacturing techniques and materials, researchers can continue to optimize this delivery method and help more patients receive the medications they need.