Selecting the Right Adhesive Material Is Crucial For An Effective Wearable Drug Delivery System

Adhesive for drug delivery system
A transdermal patch which delivers medication is applied to the skin. (Image credit: British Columbia Institute of Technology, Wikimedia Commons)

Wearable drug delivery applications are easy to administer and they offer many benefits like around-the-clock monitoring and proper medical management. To make sure these devices can be worn for the prescribed time period and deliver optimal outcome, they need the right adhesive material. Wearable devices often contain multiple layers of advanced medical materials. Whatever the combination, they must provide effective moisture management and biocompatibility for patient comfort.

Read more 3M Introduces New Extended Wear Transfer Adhesive for Medical Wearables

Drug delivery systems come in different forms. Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) devices help people with diabetes manage this prevalent and chronic disease. Insulin delivery solutions come in many different shapes, sizes, and configurations. Then there are wearable drug injectors, whose global market is expected to grow from $5.57 billion in 2018 to $9.41 billion by 2023, according to MarketsandMarkets.

Factors Affecting Wear Time

Drug delivery devices should have extended wear times. Longer wear time in a wearable device doesn’t need much replacement cost, so it’s more viable. “Extended wear times also can enhance patient convenience and compliance with a drug treatment plan,” wrote Dr. Neal Carty and Deepak Prakash of Vancive Medical Technologies. “If a wearable device stays in position for extended periods, then there is less onus on the patient to remember to take his or her medication or to stop daily life activities to change out their drug delivery system sensor or injector. Whereas around 3 to 7 days previously was the wear-time norm, today, it is common for device developers to aim for 21- or 28-day wear times.”

Moisture Management

The user may feel uncomfortable and could experience skin deterioration if moisture from perspiration or contact with fluids gathers on the skin beneath the wearable drug delivery system. As a result, the patient may remove the device prematurely. Most adhesive materials either absorb moisture or they allow the moisture to pass through tiny pores in the material and evaporate/ Some advanced medical materials leverage both moisture management methods.

A person wearing a smartwatch
Image: Piqsels


Drug delivery system developers will want to be sure adhesive materials pass the ISO 10993 standard tests for cytotoxicity, irritation, and sensitivity.

Design & Construction

Adhesive material suppliers can collaborate with drug delivery system developers on design and construction strategies to help ensure patient comfort.

Read more DowDuPont Launches New Soft Skin Adhesive for Wearable Medical Devices at MD&M West 2019

Wear Testing

Testing should take place during the early product conceptualization stage before the design freeze. Some materials suppliers will conduct this type of wear testing for customers to help identify optimal material choices and design elements — and to expose any unexpected problems with comfort and adherence, the DrugDev report said.


Wearable drug delivery systems enable patients to monitor their conditions more easily and allow them to administer medicines in the comfort of their homes. For a wearable device to be effective, it needs to offer extended wear times and a high degree of comfort and discretion. Wear testing during product conceptualization is necessary for developing a successful drug delivery system.

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Sam Draper () is Online Editor at WT | Wearable Technologies specialized in the field of sports and fitness but also passionated about any new lifestyle gadget on the market. Sam can be contacted at press(at)