Exploring the Potential of Polymeric Excipients for Nasal Formulations

Posted by Ashley Rezak on 04/25/2024

In recent years, the landscape of pharmaceutical formulations has been witnessing a significant shift towards non-invasive delivery methods. Among these, nasal administration has emerged as a promising option, particularly in the wake of a respiratory virus pandemic and the quest for innovative drug delivery solutions. With a growing interest in nasal drug delivery, there's also a corresponding surge in products aiming to protect against respiratory infections.

Nasal Drug Delivery: A Rising Trend

Nasal drug delivery offers several advantages over traditional routes, making it increasingly prevalent among patients and healthcare providers alike. According to PharmaCircle, it is estimated that nasal products currently comprise approximately 20% of the preclinical prescription pipeline, versus only 7% of marketed products, demonstrating their growing popularity.

Not only does nasal administration provide a non-invasive alternative to injections, but it also bypasses the first-pass metabolism, leading to better bioavailability, reduced side effects, and possible improved therapeutic outcomes. Moreover, the ease of administration and patient preference for nasal formulations further contribute to their rising demand.

The Role of Polymeric Excipients

Polymeric excipients play a crucial role in the formulation of nasal products, offering unique properties that enhance drug delivery and therapeutic efficacy. Among these, Carbopol® polymers have garnered attention for their versatility and effectiveness in certain liquid and semisolid nasal formulations. Let's delve into some key areas where polymeric excipients, particularly Carbopol® polymers, shine:

1. Mucosal Protective Barrier Functionality

Studies have shown that high molecular weight acrylic acid polymers, such as Carbopol® polymers, exhibit effectiveness in inhibiting bacterial and viral growth by creating a protective shield on nasal mucosal tissue. This provides a method to safeguard the airway mucosa, thereby reducing the risk of respiratory infections. More on this topic, including study data, can be found in our technical brief here.

2. Mucoadhesion

Mucoadhesion refers to the ability of a material, in this case a drug product, to adhere to mucosal surfaces, thereby prolonging drug residence time and enhancing absorption. Mucoadhesion can also provide lubrication and moisturization of mucosal tissue by coating and protecting it. Carbopol® polymers possess strong mucoadhesive properties, ensuring optimal drug delivery and sustained therapeutic effects.

3. Spray Pattern

In nasal spray formulations, achieving an optimal spray pattern is crucial for uniform drug distribution and effective deposition in the nasal cavity. Carbopol® polymers have demonstrated excellent spray pattern formation, ensuring full coverage of the nasal mucosa with minimal dripping. This not only enhances patient compliance but also maximizes drug delivery efficiency, ultimately improving therapeutic outcomes.

Embracing Innovation in Nasal Formulations

As the demand for nasal drug delivery continues to rise, the role of polymeric excipients, particularly Carbopol® polymers, becomes increasingly significant. From their ability to create protective barriers to their strong mucoadhesive properties and optimal spray pattern formation, these excipients offer a myriad of benefits for formulators and patients alike. By harnessing the potential of nasal excipients, pharmaceutical companies can develop innovative formulations that address unmet medical needs and improve patient outcomes.


The future of nasal drug delivery looks promising. As we continue to explore the potential of nasal formulations, excipients will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of drug delivery and therapeutic innovation. Download our technical brief on nasal drug delivery today to dive more into studies on protective barrier functionality, mucoadhesion, and nasal spray pattern evaluation.

Ashley Rezak


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