The Role of Volume in the Perceptibility of Topical Vaginal Formulations: User Sensory Perceptions and Experiences of Heterosexual Couples During Vaginal Sex.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Users' sensory perceptions and experiences (USPEs; perceptibility) of drug formulations can critically impact product adoption and adherence, especially when products rely on appropriate user behaviors (timing of administration, dosing measurement) for effectiveness. The use of topical gel formulations for effective antihuman immunodeficiency virus/sexually transmitted infection (HIV/STI) vaginal microbicides has been associated with messiness and other use-associated challenges, resulting in low adherence. Nonetheless, such formulations remain attractive due to good pharmacokinetics and resulting pharmacodynamics through their volume and surface contact for drug delivery into luminal fluids and mucosa. Consequently, advocates and scientists continue to pursue topical forms [semisolid (e.g., gel, suppository); solid (e.g., film)] to deliver select drugs and offer user choice in HIV/STI prevention. The current data build on previously validated USPE scales evaluating perceptibility of gels with various biophysical/rheological properties. Specifically, increased formulation parameter space adds a new set of properties inherent in quick-dissolving film. We compared film, a product adding no discernable volume to the vaginal environment, to 2 and 3.5 mL hydroxyethyl cellulose gel to consider the impact of volume on user experience. We also examined the USPE scales for evaluation of male sexual partners' experiences. The original USPE scales functioned as expected. Additionally, six new USPE scales were identified in this enhanced parameter space. Significant differences were noted between USPEs in pairwise comparisons, with largest differences between film and high-volume gel. Product developers and behavioral scientists can use these scales to design products, optimizing user experience and maximizing adherence and delivery of efficacious anti-HIV/STI pharmaceuticals. They can be extended to evaluation of additional formulations, devices, and compartments, as well as single- and multipurpose pharmaceuticals. In broader contexts, USPEs could be of value in evaluating formulations and devices to prevent/treat other diseases (e.g., ophthalmologic, dermatologic). Steadfast attention should be given to patient experience, and, where applicable, experiences of partners and/or caregivers.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Guthrie, KM; Fava, JL; Vargas, SE; Rosen, RK; Shaw, JG; Kojic, EM; Ham, AS; Rohan, LC; Katz, D; Panameño, A; Colleran, C; Friend, DF; Buckheit, KW; Buckheit, RW

Published Date

  • December 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 36 / 12

Start / End Page

  • 1059 - 1070

PubMed ID

  • 32988214

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7703150

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1931-8405

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0889-2229

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1089/aid.2020.0138


  • eng