Gels as vaginal drug delivery systems

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Abstract

The vagina has been used as a mucosal drug delivery route for a long time. Its single characteristics can be either limitative or advantageous when drug delivery is considered. Gels are semi-solid, three-dimensional, polymeric matrices comprising small amounts of solid, dispersed in relatively large amounts of liquid, yet possessing more solid-like character. These systems have been used and are receiving a great deal of interest as vaginal drug delivery systems. Gels are versatile and have been used as delivery systems for microbicides, contraceptives, labour inducers, and other substances. Although somewhat neglected in clinical studies, pharmaceutical characterization of vaginal gels is an important step in order to optimize safety, efficacy and acceptability. Indeed, the simple formulation of a gel can lead to different performances of systems containing the same amount of active substances. Therefore, this paper discusses and summarizes current use and research of vaginal drug delivery systems based in gels.

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