Transdermal drug delivery offers an attractive alternative to the conve ntional drug delivery methods of oral administration and injection. However, the stratum corneum acts as a barrier that limits the penetration of substances through the skin. Applic ation of high voltage pulses to th e skin increases its permeability (electroporation) and enables the delivery of va rious substances into and through the skin.
The application of electroporation to the skin has been shown to increase transdermal drug delivery. Moreover, electroporation, used alone or in combination with other enhancement methods, expands the range of drugs (small to macromolecules, lipophilic or hydrophilic, charged or neutra l molecules) which can be delivered transdermally.
The efficacy of transport depends on the electrical parameters and the physicochemical properties of drugs. The in vivo application of high voltage pulses is well tolerated but muscle cont ractions are usually induced. The electrode and patch design is an important issue to reduce the discomfort of the electrical treatment in humans.
This chapter presents the main findings in the field of electroporation. Par ticular attention is paid to proposed enhancement mechanisms and trends in the field of topical and transdermal delivery.