Purpose. Electroporation, a method of reversibly permeabilizing lipid bilayers by the application of an electric pulse, has been shown to induce increased transdermal passage of molecules. The aim of the present report was to study in vitro with hairless rat skin the potential of electroporation for transdermal delivery of fentanyl.

Results. The application of electric pulses can strongly promote transdermal delivery of fentanyl compared to passive diffusion through untreated skin. We also point out that the choice of the waveform of the electric pulses is important: at the same applied energy, a few exponentially-decaying (ED) pulses increased fentanyl permeation more than a few square-wave pulses and to the same extent as the repeated application of higher voltage-shorter duration ED pulses. A factorial design showed that the voltage, duration, and number of ED pulses allowed control of the quantity of drug transported through the skin.

Conclusions. Skin electroporation could be a good way to improve the transdermal diffusion of fentanyl.

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