Microneedles for pain killers

1 July 2014. NUS scientists have fabricated a patch containing microneedles to deliver a pain killer directly below the skin.

Painkillers are needed in many situations to manage both acute and chronic pain conditions. These are often administered via injections, or transdermal patches which are medicated adhesive patches placed on the skin to deliver medications through the skin. However injections are often not acceptable to patients, while transdermal patches do not work well with lidocaine, one of the most important painkillers, due to variability of drug absorption between individuals and slower drug permeation through skin (see Figure). Dr KANG Lifeng from the Department of Pharmacy in NUS has now developed a microneedle-based patch to deliver lidocaine effectively, using microneedles to create micron sized channels in the skin backed by a reservoir to hold the drug for sustained release. The application of this patch does not create any significant pain.

The lidocaine patch was found to be able to achieve a quicker pain relief for patients. This patch could also potentially be used for young children, patients during operations, and in the home environment due to its ease of application.


Image shows a schematic cartoon of the fabricated microneedle-based patch to deliver a pain killer into skin within 5 minutes. (Photo credit: KANG Lifeng)


Kochhar JS, Li WX S, Zou S, Foo WY, Pan J, Kang L. "Microneedle integrated transdermal patch for fast onset and sustained delivery of lidocaine." Molecular Pharmaceutics 10 (2013) 4272.