Patch replaces pills and injections

July 9, 2023

Research team from Singapore has developed a new form of drug delivery

Especially for children and the elderly who have problems swallowing medicines as pills or in liquid form, an innovation by researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) ( is intended. They have developed a porous film that is impregnated with the respective medication. It comes in diameters of 18.5 and 23.6 millimetres, the dimensions of 10- and 20-cent pieces in the city-state. The foil is stuck to the inner cheek of a patient. This area is heavily perfused, so the drug goes directly into the blood, bypassing the stomach and digestive tract.
Dosing errors impossible

This method of drug delivery reduces the risk of choking, swallowing and rejection. In addition, the film manufacturing process also eliminates dosing errors commonly associated with multiple dose bottles of liquid medications. The films have a low water content, so they have a longer shelf life compared to liquid medicines. The new technology is being commercialised by NUS start-up PharLyfe+ (

“Our oral film marks a significant milestone in patient-centred and personalised medicine, offering a safer and greener alternative to traditional drug delivery methods,” said NUS lead developer Chan Sui Yung. The first thing the company wants to develop is the drug patch for people who are about to die and need preparations for anxiety and severe pain. They are intended to replace stressful injections, which are unavoidable today. The research team hopes that its solution will contribute to better patient care.

Eliminating the need for inhalers

Each film contains a customised blend of ingredients formulated for a specific drug. These are dissolved in a solvent. The exact amount of this liquid is pipetted onto a substrate. The film prepared in this way is dried in an oven. Apart from the more convenient administration of the drugs, the new method has other advantages. Because the preparations go directly into the blood, smaller quantities are required, which is particularly important for expensive drugs. In addition, disposable applicators and devices such as syringes, needles, inhalers and auto-injectors are no longer needed.

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