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University Spin-Off Develops Pain Killer Patch

Ibuprofen patch

Medherant ibuprofen skin patch (University of Warwick)

8 December 2015. A new company begun by a chemistry professor in the U.K. is developing a patch infused with ibuprofen for people needing relief from pain or inflammation from arthritis. Medherant Ltd., in Coventry, is developing the patch based on research at University of Warwick conducted by David Haddleton, who founded the company and serves as its chief scientist.

Ibuprofen is the familiar non-aspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug found in over-the-counter medications Advil, Motrin, and others. For many people with muscle pain or arthritis, an ibuprofen tablet every 3 or 4 hours is sufficient. For individuals needing more pain relief, however, taking more pills may be upsetting to their gastrointestinal systems. A patch with ibuprofen applied on the skin can deliver higher doses for faster relief where needed, without swallowing more pills.

Haddleton’s lab in Warwick studies polymer chemistry to design new polymer materials for health care and therapeutics. Haddleton notes in a university statement that most patches or wraps for pain relief provide warmth rather than drugs to relieve pain and stiffness. “Our technology,” says Haddleton, “now means that we can for the first time produce patches that contain effective doses of active ingredients such as ibuprofen for which no patches currently exist.”

That technology, says Haddleton, allows the thin, flexible patch to contain up to 30 percent of its weight in the active ingredient, in this case ibuprofen, which means it can deliver 5 to 10 times the volume of drug payload found in other patches or gels, and for longer periods of time. The patch also remains tacky and adheres to the skin, but is still easy and comfortable to remove.

Haddleton and partner Nigel Davis founded Medherant last year to develop the ibuprofen and similar patches. The company secured seed funding from British technology investor Mercia Fund Management in June 2015. At about the same time, Medherant licensed pressure-sensitive adhesives from Bostik, a manufacturer of adhesives, for patches delivering drugs through the skin.

“Our first products will be over-the-counter pain relief patches,” says Davis, “and through partnering we would expect to have the first of those products on the market in around 2 years.” The company is also experimenting with patches that deliver methyl salicylate, used in over-the-counter topical ointments for pain relief.

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