The history of electrically-assisted transdermal drug delivery ("iontophoresis")

Pharmazie. 2001 Jul;56(7):583-7.


The first proposals for the use of electric current in drug delivery date from the mid 18th century. Serious progress was made in the 19th century notably by Benjamin Ward Richardson (1828-1896), Hermann Munk (1839-1912), William James Morton (1846-1920), Stéphane Leduc (1853-1939) and Fritz Frankenhäuser (born 1868). Administration of metal ions as well as alkaloids was tried at that time. Until the early 20th century, current mediated drug delivery was known as "cataphoresis"; Frankenhäuser is said to have introduced the term "iontophoresis" before 1908. Recently, researchers talk about "electrically-assisted transdermal drug delivery". The technique was never widely adopted but always proved useful to some extent in solving particular drug delivery problems. At the dawn of the 21st century, attempts are being made to achieve iontophoretic delivery of peptides and proteins.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Iontophoresis / history*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena