Do Topical Patches Work?


Free photo Mark Gears Marker Function Hand Transmission - Max Pixel



We are often asked, “do patches work?”


The answer is complicated.


First – does patch technology work?

We know that lidocaine patches work, we know that nicotine patches work.   We know that menthol patches work.  Therefore, we can extrapolate that patch technology (applying appropriate ingredients with an occlusive barrier and appropriate excipients) works to convey the active ingredients into the user’s body.

If you are interested in having Franz Cell testing done on your product to see that the active ingredients in your product are passing through the skin barrier, we are happy to arrange that.   However – the results of a single test are not enough to make claims on your packaging or marketing, and the testing is expensive.     Franz Cell tests prove that the active ingredients are passing through the skin – not what they do once they are through.


Second –  What active ingredients are you using,

and do those ingredients produce the desired effect?

This is where things get complicated.   Although patches are not supplements (you don’t eat them), they are covered under the FDA laws in regards to supplements, which allow consumers to make their own decisions about what they should and should not be utilizing.   If you make claims about the ability of your product to do anything, you leave the realm of supplements and enter the world of over-the-counter drugs.

So we are left with anecdotal answers – for instance, water-cooler buzz has long been that adding a B-vitamin to your after-drinking hydration routine will reduce the effects of a hangover.   Has that been proven?  No!  Hangovers are considered a disease by the FDA, and anything designed to treat a disease is in their bailiwick.   To prove that B-vitamins alleviate hangover symptoms, first you’d have to determine which symptom was being affected by the vitamin, then you’d have to do extensive human testing, and on and on – all this quite apart from whether the patch technology was delivering appropriate amounts of B-vitamin through the dermis, and the differences in dosing between a patch and a pill.  Can such testing be done?  Certainly.   If you’re interested in filing a new drug application (NDA) with the FDA and pursuing that avenue, at that point you can make claims about what does and does not work in print.

Otherwise?   We stay around the water-cooler, and make recommendations to one another on a human basis, “this made a difference in my life”.


So – do patches work?

We find them useful, and use many of the products that we manufacture for our customers on ourselves and our families.   We work with experts in the field and take pride in what we create.  Do they work?   You’ll have to be the judge of that yourself.