The evolving role of transdermal patches: Exploring 7 indications

In the ever-evolving world of pharmaceuticals and drug delivery, transdermal patches have emerged as a game-changer for patients all over the world. These patches offer a convenient and effective way to administer medication through the skin.

Because of their several benefits such as bypassing the gastrointestinal system and ensuring consistent, controlled drug delivery, transdermal patches have gained popularity for various indications, making them a preferred choice for many patients and healthcare providers. In this article, we'll explore the evolving role of transdermal patches and look at 7 indications where transdermal patches are already making a significant impact in the pharmaceutical industry.

1. Motion Sickness

Motion sickness, characterized by symptoms like nausea, dizziness, and vomiting, can turn travel into an uncomfortable and unpleasant experience. Transdermal patches for motion sickness typically incorporate scopolamine, an anticholinergic medication recognized for its efficacy in alleviating nausea and preventing associated symptoms during travel. Introduced in the 1980s in the US, it marked the pioneering launch of patch-based drug delivery systems in the market. By releasing medication through the skin, these patches effectively manage nausea and vomiting, serving as a valuable tool for individuals prone to motion sickness. Their continuous release and convenient application makes them a favored choice for managing motion sickness on the move.

2. High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a prevalent and critical health condition that substantially increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other related complications. Managing high blood pressure typically necessitates lifestyle modifications and prescribed medications. 

Transdermal patches containing medications like clonidine (e.g. "Catapres-TTS®", registered in 1984) provide a controlled release capable of reducing blood pressure and mitigating heart-related complications. The availability of various patch strengths allows for personalized treatment tailored to individual blood pressure requirements and responses, ensuring a consistent drug level in the bloodstream throughout the day.

3. Smoking Cessation

Did you know that the first patent for nicotine patches was registered in 1986? Following gums, patches comprise the second-largest market globally for nicotine replacement therapies (NRT). Ever since their inception, transdermal patches have assisted numerous individuals in quitting smoking. These nicotine patches are specifically designed to deliver a controlled and consistent dose of nicotine through the skin, effectively alleviating withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings. this gradual reduction in nicotine intake supports individuals in their efforts to break the habit. Notably, one well-known product in this domain is Nicopatchlib® (also available for licensing; further information can be found here.)

4. Pain management

Transdermal patches have become a valuable tool in pain management, particularly in cancer or palliative care. They commonly contain medications like opioids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or lidocaine, offering a targeted and controlled approach to delivering medications directly through the skin. By slowly and steadily releasing the medication through the skin, these patches provide long-lasting relief. The first pain management patch on the market was a fentanyl patch in the 1990s (Duragesic®) for cancer-induced chronic pain. The market size for transdermal patches in pain management is anticipated to grow from $4,8 billion in 2021 it is believed to rise up to $7,3 billion in 2031

5. Birth control

The first hormonal pill for contraception entered the market in 1960. Approximately 40 years later, in 2002, the first contraceptive patch,"Ortho Evra", containing norelgestromin, was introduced. It offered a convenient alternative to daily birth control pills. These patches, containing a combination of estrogen and progestin hormones, are applied once a week, ensuring reliable contraception and minimizing the likelihood of missing a dose. 


Transdermal patches for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) deliver the active ingredient in a time-released manner, offering sustained focus and reduced impulsivity for patients, particularyl children, who struggle with the condition. For instance, Daytrana®, introduced to the market in 2006, contains methylphenidate. Additionally, a new product called "Xelstrym™", representing the first transdermal patch with amphetamine, has entered the market. 

These patches play a role in reducing stigma and distraction associated with medication use: Children and adolescents managing ADHD may feel self-conscious about taking medication during the school day. The discreet nature of patches, not requiring oral administration, eradicates the need for conspicuousness or disruption caused by taking a pill. Moreover, transdermal patches ensure a controlled and consistent medication release over several hours. This sustained delivery helps maintain a stable and predictable drug level in the bloodstream, minimizing the peaks and troughs often linked with certain oral medications.

7. Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease is a challenging neurodegenerative condition that affects millions of individuals worldwide (with projections of up to 130 million affected within the next 30 years), resulting in cognitive decline and memory loss. Although no cure for Alzheimer's exists, various treatments focus on symptoms management and enhancing the affected individuals' quality of life. Transdermal patches have emerged as a valuable tool in this pursuit, offering a distinctive method to administer specific medications for individuals with Alzheimer's.

These patches commonly contain active ingredientslike rivastigmine (Exelon®, the pioneering transdermal patch for Alzheimer's approved in 2007) or donepezil (Aricept®). These patches work by increasing acetylcholine levels in the brain, helping to manage cognitive decline and memory issues associated with the condition.

Utilizing transdermal patches presents several advantages for individuals dealing with Alzheimer's disease. Application directly onto the skin eliminates the need to swallow multiple pills. Additionally, the consistent delivery of medication ensures a steady drug dosage, aiding in stabilizing cognitive function and potentially decelerating symptom progression.



Innovative and versatile, transdermal patches have transformed medication delivery, offering an array of benefits such as consistent drug release, minimized side effects, and enhanced patient adherence. These 7 indications highlight the adaptability of transdermal patches in the pharmaceutical industry, making them an essential tool for addressing a wide range of medical conditions. As research and development persist, we anticipate the emergence of even more innovative applications for transdermal patches, promising further enhancements in patients' lives globally.

AdhexPharma and Labtec remain at the forefront of this exciting field, working to develop cutting-edge transdermal patch technologies for the benefit of patients and healthcare providers alike. Feel free to contact us today to learn more about our services and technologies!

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