A five-day treatment course of zanamivir for the flu with a single, self-administered, painless microneedle array patch: Revolutionizing delivery of poorly membrane-permeable therapeutics

Int J Pharm. 2023 Jun 25;641:123081. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpharm.2023.123081. Epub 2023 May 23.


Seasonal influenza virus infections cause a substantial number of deaths each year. While zanamivir (ZAN) is efficacious against oseltamivir-resistant influenza strains, the efficacy of the drug is limited by its route of administration, oral inhalation. Herein, we present the development of a hydrogel-forming microneedle array (MA) in combination with ZAN reservoirs for treating seasonal influenza. The MA was fabricated from Gantrez® S-97 crosslinked with PEG 10,000. Various reservoir formulations included ZAN hydrate, ZAN hydrochloric acid (HCl), CarraDres™, gelatin, trehalose, and/or alginate. In vitro permeation studies with a lyophilized reservoir consisting of ZAN HCl, gelatin, and trehalose resulted in rapid and high delivery of up to 33 mg of ZAN across the skin with delivery efficiency of up to ≈75% by 24 h. Pharmacokinetics studies in rats and pigs demonstrated that a single administration of a MA in combination with a CarraDres™ ZAN HCl reservoir offered a simple and minimally invasive delivery of ZAN into the systemic circulation. In pigs, efficacious plasma and lung steady-state levels of ∼120 ng/mL were reached within 2 h and sustained between 50 and 250 ng/mL over 5 days. MA-enabled delivery of ZAN could enable a larger number of patients to be reached during an influenza outbreak.

Keywords: Controlled release delivery; Influenza treatment; PK/PD driven drug delivery; Preclinical pharmacokinetics; Swellable microarray patches; Zanamivir.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Gelatin
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human*
  • Rats
  • Swine
  • Trehalose
  • Zanamivir* / therapeutic use


  • Zanamivir
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Gelatin
  • Trehalose