Cocrystallization as a novel approach to enhance the transdermal administration of meloxicam

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Despite its large effectiveness, the long-term oral administration of high doses of meloxicam (MLX) may lead to gastrointestinal events such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, dyspepsia, ulceration, hemorrhage, and gastrointestinal perforation. Moreover, the pH-dependent solubility of MLX makes the development of new oral formulations even more challenging. As an alternative to overcome these limitations, the transdermal delivery of this drug has been purposed. Although various physical and chemical approaches to enhance the absorption of MLX may be found in literature, the use of cocrystallization has not been reported so far. Cutaneous permeation of MLX and 1:1 meloxicam-salicylic acid cocrystal (MLX-SLC) were evaluated using Franz diffusion cells. Cocrystal was suspended in an aqueous solution and in a gel to evaluate the vehicle effect on permeation parameters. In aqueous medium, the cocrystallization showed to enhance the drug permeation coefficient from 1.38 to 2.15 × 10−3 cm/h. MLX-SLC generated supersaturation with respect to the drug during dissolution studies simulating the conditions in the Franz cell donor chamber. This greater amount of free drug in the solution could contribute to explain the higher transdermal absorption and shorter lag time of this system. In addition, the acidic coformer ionization led to a pH reduction from 7.4 to 5.8, which, in turn, provided an increase in the unionized species of the drug, enhancing its permeation rate. The gel containing cocrystals reduced MLX permeation rate significantly (P = 0.42 × 10−3 cm/h), which was attributed to its higher viscosity.Graphical abstractHighlightsThe ratio of ionized to unionized drug species was affected by the cocrystal dissociation.A supersaturated state was generated by using the cocrystal approach.The presence of free drug in solution is crucial to enhance its cutaneous permeation.Drug-coformer interactions enhanced both drug solubility and cutaneous permeation.

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