Effects of Formulation Design on Niacin Therapeutics: Mechanism of Action, Metabolism, and Drug Delivery

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Niacin is a highly effective, lipid regulating drug associated with a number of metabolically induced side effects such as prostaglandin (PG) mediated flushing and hepatic toxicity. In an attempt to reduce the development of these adverse effects, scientists have investigated differing methods of niacin delivery designed to control drug release and alter metabolism. However, despite successful formulation of various orally based capsule and tablet delivery systems, patient adherence to niacin therapy is still compromised by adverse events such as PG-induced flushing. While the primary advantage of orally dosed formulations is ease of use, alternative delivery options such as transdermal delivery or polymeric micro/nanoparticle encapsulation for oral administration have shown promise in niacin reformulation. However, the effectiveness of these alternative delivery options in reducing inimical effects of niacin and maintaining drug efficacy is still largely unknown and requires more in-depth investigation. In this paper, we present an overview of niacin applications, its metabolic pathways, and current drug delivery formulations. Focus is placed on oral immediate, sustained, and extended release niacin delivery as well as combined statin and/or prostaglandin antagonist niacin formulation. We also examine and discuss current findings involving transdermal niacin formulations and polymeric micro/nanoparticle encapsulated niacin delivery.