The oral film developed by NUS researchers is convenient to use, and enables painless, efficient, and discreet drug administration. (Credit: NUS)

A team of researchers has recently developed easy-to-use oral films that enable painless, efficient, and discreet drug administration. The novel oral film releases drugs into the bloodstream via the mucosal membrane — the moist, inner lining of the mouth.

Each oral film can be easily placed onto the inner cheek of the patient’s mouth, and medication will be released into the bloodstream over a predetermined period. This method of medication administration reduces the risk of choking, aspiration, and rejection. Moreover, the manufacturing method of the films eliminates dosing errors commonly associated with multi-dose bottles of liquid medicine.

Each oral film is very thin and round, and it comes in two sizes – 10- and 20-cent coin sizes – making it convenient to be carried around, distributed, or stored in larger quantities at healthcare institutions. Additionally, the films have a low water content, so they have a longer shelf life compared to compounded liquid medicines, hence they could be a reliable option for patients and healthcare providers.

The oral films are easy to produce. Each film comprises a customized premix of ingredients formulated for a specific medication. These ingredients are added to the drug solution, and an accurate volume of the required drug dosage is pipetted onto a mold. The resulting mixture is dried using a light-duty oven. This method of production uses fewer ingredients and smaller quantities of materials compared to traditional drug-delivery methods, particularly those that require costly, single-use applicators and devices such as syringes, needles, inhalers, and auto-injectors.

This patient-friendly drug-delivery method is being commercialized through an NUS start-up PharLyfe+.