Celecoxib is used in the treatment of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, acute pain, joint inflammation and sport injuries. Long term administration of the drug results in such complications as gastrointestinaland renal disturbances and cardio-vascular complications. The main objective of the present study was to investigate the feasibility of delivering celecoxib incorporated in gel formulations by iontophoresis. Sodium alginate, sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) and carbopol 934P were used to develop topical gel formulations of celecoxib. The gel formulations were evaluated for macroscopic and microscopic properties, pH determination, spreadability, rheological behaviour, and drug release characteristics both in vitro and ex vivo. Drug release was evaluated in the presence of iontophoresis field (0.1 to 0.5 mA/cm(2)) or without electrical current (passive diffusion) and celecoxib was measured spectrophotometrically at 252 nm. Most gel formulations showed acceptable physicochemical properties. Amongst formulations, gel formulation containing HPMC K4M which indicated greater performance in drug release behaviour was selected for further in vivo studies. The cumulative percent of drug released in vitro at the end of each experiment was 36%, 63%, and 89.7% for passive diffusion, direct electric current (DC) current density of 0.3 mA/cm(2), and 0.5 mA/cm(2), respectively. The findings of ex vivo drug transport across rat skin also showed a significantly higher release of celecoxib compared to passive flux for both AC and DC currents. A 0.5 mA/cm(2) of DC current increased drug flux to 73% compared to 41.5% of passive diffusion. It can be concluded from the results of this study that the application of iontophoresis enhances the flux of celecoxib, as compared to the passive diffusion.
Keywords: Celecoxib; Ex vivo; Gel formulation; In vitro; Iontophoresis; NSAIDs; Rat skin.