Drug delivery systems have unusual materials requirements which derive mainly from their therapeutic role: to administer drugs over prolonged periods of time at rates that are independent of patient-to-patient variables. The chemical nature of the surfaces of such devices may stimulate biorejection processes which can be enhanced or suppressed by the simultaneous presence of the drug that is being administered. Selection of materials for such systems is further complicated by the need for compatibility with the drug contained within the system. A review of selected drug delivery systems is presented. This leads to a definition of the technologies required to develop successfully such systems as well as to categorize the classes of drug delivery systems available to the therapist.
There are five major challenges to the Biomaterials scientist:
- How to minimize the influence on delivery rate of the transient biological response that accompanies implantation of any object
- How to select a composition, size, shape, and flexibility that optimizes biocompatibility
- How to make an intravascular delivery system that will retain long-term functionality
- How to make a percutaneous lead for those delivery systems that cannot be implanted but which must retain functionality for extended periods
- How to make biosensors of adequate compatibility and stability to use with the ultimate drug delivery system-a system that operates with feedback control.