Introduction: Sativex® spray is clinically utilized to deliver delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol to oral mucosa for systemic absorption. We challenge the consensus that the mechanism of absorption following the oro-mucosal application occurs via the buccal tissue. Areas covered: Correctness of the consensus of this absorption pathway arose when reviewing publications regarding the influence fed versus fasting states have on pharmacokinetics of these cannabinoids administered to oral mucosa. This finding is more suitable for per oral administration, where stomach content affects the absorption profile. We hypothesize that these cannabinoids are ingested and absorbed in the gastro-intestinal tract. Expert opinion: Although clinical importance of Sativex® is not disputed, the wide acceptance of its being a successful example of drug delivery through oral mucosa is questionable. Sativex® acts as example for other drugs delivered to oral mucosa for systemic absorption and unintentionally washed by the saliva flow into the gastro-intestinal tract. Delivery of each medicine through oral mucosa should be validated in-vivo to ensure this route to be the predominant one. Revealing the underlying absorption mechanisms would enable predicting the impact of different physiological parameters such as saliva flow and fed/fasting states on the pharmacokinetics of the delivered medication.
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