Strategies and therapeutic opportunities for the delivery of drugs to the esophagus

Liang Zhang, Danielle Russell, Barbara R. Conway, Hannah K. Batchelor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Targeting of drugs and therapies locally to the esophagus is an important objective in the development of new and more effective dosage forms. Therapies that are retained within the oral cavity for both local and systemic action have been utilized for many years, although delivery to the esophagus has been far less reported. Esophageal disease states, including infections, motility disorders, gastric reflux, and cancers, would all benefit from localized drug delivery. Therefore, research in this area provides significant opportunities. The key limitation to effective drug delivery within the esophagus is sufficient retention at this site coupled with activity profiles to correspond with these retention times; therefore, a suitable formulation needs to provide the drug in a ready-to-work form at the site of action during the rapid transit through this organ. A successfully designed esophageal-targeted system can overcome these obstacles. This review presents a range of dosage form approaches for targeting the esophagus, including bioadhesive liquids and orally retained lozenges, chewing gums, gels, and films, as well as endoscopically delivered therapeutics. The techniques used to measure efficacy both in vitro and in vivo are also discussed. Drug delivery is a growing driver within the pharmaceutical industry and offers benefits both in terms of clinical efficacy, as well as in market positioning, as a means of extending a drug's exclusivity and profitability. Emerging systems that can be used to target the esophagus are reported within this review, as well as the potential of alternative formulations that offer benefits in this exciting area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-304
Number of pages46
JournalCritical Reviews in Therapeutic Drug Carrier Systems
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • esophagus
  • drug delivery
  • bioadhesion
  • dosage form design


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