Your Life in a Patch
They’re no longer just for smokers
By: Bonnie Estridge
Skin-patch technology that relies on transdermal – through the skin – delivery has flourished ever since the nicotine patch was launched in the mid-Eighties.
There are now patches available to cover almost every area of health – from libido boosters to Alzheimer’s disease. Here we examine the latest ones available … and those we can expect in the near future.
What is it? Exelon is the first and only transdermal patch for Alzheimer’s disease and became available in the UK at the beginning of the year.
What does it do? It delivers the drug rivastigmine through the skin, reducing side-effects such as nausea and vomiting. It is also far easier for caregivers to administer than pills. Exelon increases the amount of acetylcholine in the brain, an important neurotransmitter controlling memory, thinking and decision-making.
Who’s it for? Those with mild to moderately severe Alzheimer’s.
Where can I get it? Available only on prescription.
What is it? Glucosamine24Seven contains popular health supplements Glucosamine and Chondroitin, which have been shown to be effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis and for the health of the joints in general.
What does it do? Trials found the patches help ease the pain of stiff and sore joints more effectively than when the supplements are taken orally.
Who’s it for? Those with osteoarthritis or who take the supplements to keep their joints healthy.
What is it? Evra acts in the same way as the Pill, releasing the two female sex hormones oestrogen and progestogen – a synthetic version of progesterone.
What does it do? It releases a daily dose of the hormones into the skin to stop ovulation, thickens the mucus from the cervix so it is difficult for sperm to move through it and makes the lining of the womb thinner so that it is less likely to accept a fertilized egg.
Who’s it for? Women of childbearing age who do not wish to get pregnant.
Where can I get it? Available free from family-planning clinics and some GP practices.
What is it? Hokunalin Tape contains a similar drug to salbutamol, which is found in many asthma inhalers.
What does it do? It contains fine crystals of the drug that dissolve on contact with the skin and are said to be effective in preventing asthma attacks.
Who’s it for? Asthma sufferers who would otherwise use an inhaler to control their condition.
Where can I get it? Currently available only in Japan and Korea where it was developed. European approval requires additional clinical trials, which are ongoing.
Sexual Potency Patch
What is it? The Phirago Sexual Potency patch claims to be a natural alternative to drugs such as Viagra.
What does it do? Energy-boosting ingredients such as ginseng and muira puama are thought to boost libido by increasing blood flow to the pelvic area.
Who’s it for? Anyone suffering from lack of libido whether physical or psychological.
Prostate Cancer Patch
What is it? A patch containing the female hormone oestrogen.
What does it do? Prostate cancer needs the hormone testosterone to grow but by giving oestrogen as an ‘antitestosterone’ treatment, the levels are lowered..
Who’s it for? Being trialed by men with prostate cancer who may need hormone treatment for many years.
Where can I get it? It is not available yet. For details on the trial visit Cancer Research UK.
What is it? The Passport basal insulin transdermal patch delivers a steady level of insulin.
What does it do? Insulin has to be injected because it is difficult to absorb through the skin. This patch – which is being trialed – creates tiny channels or ‘micropores’ in the skin through which insulin can pass.
Who’s it for? All those with Type 1 insulin-dependant diabetes and some with Type 2 diabetes who cannot control the condition by diet alone. It is unlikely to replace injections entirely.
Where can I get it? Not available yet.
What is it? Versatis is licensed in the UK for the treatment of postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), nerve pain associated with shingles.
What does it do? It delivers the anaesthetic Lidocaine and a cooling gel soothes inflammation.
Who’s it for? Those PHN sufferers for whom other treatments do not work.
Where can I get it? Available now on prescription.
What is it? The Evorel Sequi patch is a combined HRT preparation that consists of two types of patch, one contains estradiol hemihydrate, a natural form of oestrogen, and the other contains norethisterone acetate, synthetic progesterone.
What does it do? The patches are forms of the main female sex hormones. Oestrogen replaces falling levels in the body, helping to prevent osteoporosis, while progesterone opposes oestrogen’s effect on the womb lining and helps to reduce the risk of cancer.
Who’s it for? Menopausal women.
Where can I get it? Available on prescription only. A number of similar products exist.
Period Pain Patch
What is it? The reusable Pain Ease Patch claims to eliminate pain within 30 minutes. A single patch can last up to 500 hours.
What does it do? The patches use microcurrent therapy to target pain. Placed on either side of the affected area, two patches work together to produce a mild electrical current that stimulates the underlying tissue to promote self-healing.
Who’s it for? Women who suffer mild to medium discomfort.
What is it? The Don’t Bug Me! Patch is an insect repellent patch that protects against bites from mosquitoes, gnats, and ticks for up to 36 hours.
How does it work? It delivers a combination of Vitamin B1 (which biting insects hate) and Aloe. The aloe accelerates the absorption of B1 and serves as an anti-inflammatory.
Who’s it for? Travelers who are likely to be attacked by disease- carrying insects and those who are sensitive to insect bites.