Papaverine hydrochloride (PaHCl) is an old, well-known drug with spasmolytic activity but it has therapeutic effect in erectile dysfunction, too. As an intracavernous injection, it is not used in urologic clinics today because the side effects of the injection are pain, scarring or priapism. Our aim was to develop and test a topical semi-solid preparation containing PaHCl that would provide an alternative administration option by eliminating the undesirable side effects of the injection.
Lyotropic liquid crystal (LLC) systems were formulated as a semi-solid preparation with different concentrations of PaHCl. The characterization of the LLC structure was performed by polarization microscopy using a Leica image analyzer and rheological measurements. The drug diffusion and penetration tests were performed with in vitro synthetic membrane and an ex vivo human epidermis, using Franz diffusion cell to test the skin penetration of PaHCl. Human skin was investigated by Raman microscope to visualize the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) in different skin layers.
The results of diffusion and penetration showed reverse concentration dependency. The in vitro and ex vivo studies correlated with each other and the results of Raman microscopy. The LLC structure influenced the penetration results, the lower viscosity and lamellar structure increased penetration through the skin.