The science of selecting excipients for dermal self-emulsifying drug delivery systems

Daniélle van Staden, Richard K. Haynes, Joe M. Viljoen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


Self-emulsification is considered a formulation technique that has proven capacity to improve oral drug delivery of poorly soluble drugs by advancing both solubility and bioavailability. The capacity of these formulations to produce emulsions after moderate agitation and dilution by means of water phase addition provides a simplified method to improve delivery of lipophilic drugs, where prolonged drug dissolution in the aqueous environment of the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract is known as the rate-limiting step rendering decreased drug absorption. Additionally, spontaneous emulsification has been reported as an innovative topical drug delivery system that enables successful crossing of mucus membranes as well as skin. The ease of formulation generated by the spontaneous emulsification technique itself is intriguing due to the simplified production procedure and unlimited upscaling possibilities. However, spontaneous emulsification depends solely on selecting excipients that complement each other in order to create a vehicle aimed at optimizing drug delivery. If excipients are not compatible or unable to spontaneously transpire into emulsions once exposed to mild agitation, no self-emulsification will be achieved. Therefore, the generalized view of excipients as inert bystanders facilitating delivery of an active compound cannot be accepted when selecting excipients needed to produce self-emulsifying drug delivery systems (SEDDSs). Hence, this review describes the excipients needed to generate dermal SEDDSs as well as self-double-emulsifying drug delivery systems (SDEDDSs); how to consider combinations that complement the incorporated drug(s); and an overview of using natural excipients as thickening agents and skin penetration enhancers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1293
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


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