Are Zydis Drugs Safe To Touch?

'Zydis' is an orally dissolving tablet technology, and should be protected from moisture. They are not toxic to touch, however.

Are Zydis Drugs Safe To Touch?
May 30, 2019

Laurie asked

Hello, I am a school nurse. A staff member accidental touched a 'Zydis' drug form, but the actual type of medication is unknown. The medication disintegrated upon touching it, disappearing, with bare fingers. Could the medication have been absorbed into his skin?

At a glance

  • There are a variety of drugs that utilize 'Zydis' technology, a patented form of orally dissolving tablets. They are sensitive to moisture as they are designed to disintegrate and dissolve quickly after taking by mouth. No drugs that utilize Zydis technology are known to be irritants to human skin or teratogenic.


Dissolving Tablet With Text - Touching Zydis Tablets

There are several drugs that should, ideally, not be touched with bare hands due to the risk of toxicity.

Specifically, drugs that are cytotoxic (i.e. toxic to cells) or potentially teratogenic (i.e. a drug that can cause birth defects) should not be handled without protection, especially by pregnant women.

Examples of these drugs include:[1]

  • Propecia (finasteride): This drug is teratogenic, and should not be handled by pregnant women.
  • Droxia (hydroxyurea): This drug is cytotoxic and exposure may cause serious toxicity.
  • Accutane (isotretinoin): This drug is teratogenic, and should not be handled by pregnant women.
  • Temodar (temozolomide): This drug is cytotoxic and exposure may cause serious toxicity.

Drugs that use 'Zydis' technology aren't inherently unsafe or toxic. In fact, 'Zydis' is simply a patented ODT (orally dissolving tablet) dosage form (the patent is held by Catalent).[2]

Catalent describes Zydis technology as the following:

The Zydis® ODT (orally dissolving tablet) fast-dissolve formulation, is a unique, freeze-dried oral solid dosage form that disperses almost instantly in the mouth - no water required.

While Zydis tablets are extremely susceptible to damage via exposure to moisture or physical manipulation (they are orally dissolving tablets after-all), they aren't necessarily dangerous to handle.

There are currently no drug products that utilize Zydis technology (we list these in the next section) that are considered to be teratogenic or cytotoxic.

So, in your situation, the staff member who touched 'Zydis' drug shouldn't have any issues aside from the fact that the actual medication is destroyed and is unable to be administered.

Overall, the concern with 'Zydis' drugs is not that they are dangerous or toxic to handle, but that the actual dosage form can be destroyed, even with a minimal amount of moisture (e.g. from skin contact) exposure.

Due to their moisture sensitivity, they even need to be dispensed in single-use blister packages.

'Zydis' Dosage Form

As mentioned in the above section, 'Zydis' tablets are orally dissolving tablets that are designed to quickly disintegrate and dissolve when they come in to contact with moisture.

Zydis tablets are essentially lyophilized (i.e. freeze-dried) drug in a 'water-soluble matrix'. This allows them to dissolve quickly upon exposure to moisture in the mouth. No additional liquid is needed and they generally dissolve in as quickly as 2 to 3 seconds.[3]

There are several advantageous characteristics of Zydis orally dissolving tablets, including:[4]

  • Ease of administration
  • Taste masking
  • Ease in swallowing
  • Fast absorption
  • Do not require liquid to consume
  • High microbial resistance (they are essentially devoid of moisture)

There are of course disadvantages of Zydis drugs as well, including the fact that they tend to be more expensive and are susceptible to breakage and moisture damage.

Below is a chart of drugs that currently utilize Zydis technology (in the United States):[5][6]

Drug Using Zydis Technology (US)

Brand Name Generic Name Class
Ativan ODT Lorazepam Benzodiazepine
Claritin ReditabLoratadineAntihistamine
Imodium Quick DissolveLoperamideAnti-diarrheal
Clarinex ReditabDesloratadineAntihistamine
Maxalt MLTRizatriptan'Triptan'
ZelaparSelegilineMAO-B Inhibitor
Zofran ODTOndansetronAnti-Nausea (Serotonin Receptor Antagonist)
Zyprexa ZydisOlanzapineAntipsychotic
MetozolvMetoclopramideAnti-Nausea; Anti-Emetic (Pro-Motility)

Final Words

It is important to note that out of all the drugs listed above, only 'Zyprexa Zydis' actually uses the word 'Zydis' in the drug name.

Therefore, if the medication the school worker touched actually has 'Zydis' in the name, it was likely Zyprexa, an antipsychotic medication. It is not known to be an irritant or teratogenic and is safe to touch.

  1. ^ Oral Dosage Forms That Should Not Be Crushed. ISMP
  2. ^ Zydis® Fast Dissolve Technology Platform. Catalent
  3. ^ Orally Disintegrating Tablets: A Dosage Form Designed for Difficult Patient Population. American Pharmaceutical Review
  4. ^ Techniques used in orally disintegrating drug delivery system. International Journal of Drug Delivery
  5. ^ Fast disintegrating tablets: Opportunity in drug delivery system. PubMed
  6. ^ FDA Approves New Salix Product Exclusively In Catalent's Zydis® Fast Dissolve Technology. Catalent

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