Microneedle patches (MNPs) contain arrays of solid needles measuring hundreds of microns in length that deliver drugs and vaccines into skin in a painless, easy-to-use manner. Optimal MNP design balances multiple interdependent parameters that determine mechanical strength, skin-insertion reliability, drug delivery efficiency, painlessness, manufacturability, and other features of MNPs that affect their performance. MNPs can be made by adapting various microfabrication technologies for delivery of small-molecule drugs, biologics, and vaccines targeted to the skin, which can have pharmacokinetic and immunologic advantages. A small number of human clinical trials, as well as a large and growing market for MNP products for cosmetics, indicate that MNPs can be used safely, efficaciously, and with strong patient acceptance. More advanced clinical trials and commercial-scale manufacturing will facilitate development of MNPs to realize their potential to dramatically increase patient access to otherwise-injectable drugs and to improve drug performance via skin delivery.


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