Skip main navigation

Differences Between Biologics and Small Molecule Drugs


Biologics and small molecule drugs differ biochemically and pharmacologically, therefore, formulation requirements are inherently different. Poor permeability and nonspecific enzyme degradation rule out oral administration for biologics. Commonly accepted routes of biologic administration are IV and subcutaneous. Potential alternative routes include nasal, buccal and transdermal. Several absorption-enhancing approaches have been attempted and will be discussed.

Biologics and small molecule drugs differ significantly in biochemistry, pharmacology and formulation. Pharmacological attributes include target specificity, therapeutic potency, biochemical attributes include membrane permeability and non-specific metabolism, and formulation attributes include pH, buffer, osmoticity, polymerization and interfacial adsorption. Each and every variable will be examined.

Poor oral absorption leaves IV and SC as the choice of administration. Several absorption- enhancing approaches including surfactant, nanoparticles, iontophoresis for transdermal delivery, and liposome for targeted delivery will be reviewed.

This article is from the free online

Pharmacotherapy: Understanding Biotechnology Products

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now