Design of a Drug-Eluting Subcutaneous Implant of the Antiretroviral Tenofovir Alafenamide Fumarate

Solange M. Simpson, Lakmini Widanapathirana, Jonathan T. Su, Samuel Sung, David Watrous, Jiang Qiu, Elizabeth Pearson, Alex Evanoff, Dipu Karunakaran, Jorge E. Chacon, Patrick F. Kiser*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Purpose: Sexual transmission of HIV has been clinically proven to be preventable with a once-daily oral tablet; however, missed doses dramatically increase the risk of HIV infection. Long-acting subcutaneous implants do not allow the user to miss a dose. A desirable long-acting drug-eluting implant can deliver a constant amount of drug, adjust the delivered dose, and be readily manufactured. We present a long-acting, subcutaneous implant design composed of tenofovir alafenamide hemifumarate (TAF) pellets loaded in a sealed polyether urethane tube for the prevention of HIV transmission. Methods: Implants were prepared with pressed drug pellets and extruded polyurethane tubing. In vitro release rate of implants using different pellet formulations, rate-controlling membranes, and geometries were measured. Results: Tenofovir alafenamide release appeared to be governed by a pseudo-steady state and followed a mass transport model of release from a cylindrical drug reservoir. Implant seal integrity was tested and confirmed using mechanical testing. The inclusion of sodium chloride in the pellet increased the release rate and reduced initial lag. The release was sustained for 100 days. Conclusions: The release rate of tenofovir alafenamide mechanistically varied with geometry and rate controlling membrane composition. The polyether urethane implant presented herein is modular and tunable to adjust the release rate and duration of the TAF release.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number83
JournalPharmaceutical Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis
  • long-acting
  • polyether urethanes
  • subcutaneous implant
  • tenofovir alafenamide hemifumarate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biotechnology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry


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