There are many types of medications in patch form, called transdermal delivery, that can help those who dislike swallowing pills, can’t swallow pills, or who need consistent levels of certain medications. The most well known are nicotine patches, and patches that provide birth control from estrogen and progesterone.
The nicotine patch has been of significant help to those who need to level off nicotine at a slow rate. Though the smoker no longer smokes, he or she gets nicotine through the patch. This helps to satisfy physical craving for the chemical so that the new non-smoker can deal with the emotional cravings that occur as well.
Birth control pills, when they are in patch form, are also thought advantageous by many. They mean women cannot forget to take “the pill.” A woman can forget to change the patch, however, which risks ovulation and greater chance of pregnancy. As well, a pregnant women using birth control medications in patch form is at risk for harming her unborn child.
Some children with attentional disorders also use medication patches. This can be helpful for the child who is not compliant or who has difficultly taking pills. Generally, the patch must be changed daily, however. Some children and adults have discomfort or itchiness from the patches. Children may take them off because they itch and possibly expose other children to unneeded medication.
Pain medications in patch form are also now available, and may be quite helpful for those with chronic pain conditions. They tend to offer a quicker delivery system than those medications taken orally. However, the absorption of the medication may be affected by where the patch is located. Patients applying their own patches need education about where to best apply patches.
Patches are also available for some forms of anti-depressants, for testosterone, and some are looking at development of an insulin patch for diabetics. Those medications that irritate the stomach when taken orally, such as Fosamax, which is used to treat those with osteoporosis, may be better in patch form.
Medications in patch form are still a new market, and there are some issues. Patients need to be taught where an how to place the patch. In addition, not all people absorb medication from patches equally. Things like skin heat and also skin tolerance can affect absorption. In tests on this form of medication for attentional disorder, about 13% of patients became tolerant of the medication, blocking the skin from absorbing it.