Delivering Therapeutic Cannabinoids via Skin: Current State and Future Perspectives

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Adequate evidence exists in the literature indicating a relatively positive shift with regards to the legal acceptance of cannabis and cannabis-derived products for medicinal purposes in some countries. Concomitantly, scientists are showing renewed interest in cannabis-related research work. Over the years, clinical and preclinical studies have demonstrated the therapeutic significance of cannabinoids for diverse indications. Additionally, efforts are being made to develop cannabis-related products into acceptable prescription products. FDA authorization for the commercial use of four cannabinoid-derived products, available as oral dosage forms is a significant progress already. However, there are certain drawbacks associated with the conventional delivery forms of cannabinoids. These include low oral bioavailability due to hepatic degradation, gastric instability, poor water solubility, and the side effects experienced upon the use of high doses of psychotropic cannabinoids associated with heightened plasma concentrations of the drug. These are however, limitable with the aid of transcutaneous drug delivery. Emerging topical and transdermal strategies could be exploited for the successful development of highly effective delivery systems for cannabinoids. This review discusses the feasibility of delivering therapeutic cannabinoids via skin and provides a comprehensive account of the supporting research studies that have been reported in the literature till date.