Overview and appraisal of the current concept and technologies for improvement of sublingual drug delivery

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Sublingual drug delivery is capable of achieving high bioavailability by avoiding first-pass liver extraction and enzymatic degradation in the gastrointestinal tract, as well as achieving rapid onset of effect. Thus, this route of administration can offer attractive therapeutic advantages for certain drugs as a convenient substitute for parenteral administration and has been applied successfully to a number of therapeutic conditions, especially urgent cardiovascular conditions and acute severe pain control. However, due to inherent limitations such as small sublingual mucosa area for absorption, primarily passive mechanism of transport, short residence time, and potential local irritation, a relatively small number of sublingual products have been successfully developed to date. In this Review, key concepts and technologies for potential improvement of sublingual drug delivery are reviewed. The optimal application of these concepts and technologies, together with clinical need for non-parenteral delivery, will hopefully broaden the development of sublingual drug delivery in the future.

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