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"Does it open a new horizon for my thinking? Does it lead me to think new kinds of thoughts, that I would not otherwise perhaps have thought at all? These qualities are what [make] science fiction ...unique."
- Frederik Pohl

Transdermal Drug Capsule  
  A drug capsule that delivers medication by being placed on the skin.  

Director Jason Dill has had a difficult day; he would like to calm down immediately.

"Dog eat dog," he said aloud...

Jason Dill put down the form. He opened a drawer of his desk and got out a flat metal tin; from it he took a capsule which he placed against his wrist. At once the capsule dissolved through the dermal layers; he felt it go into his body, passing into his blood stream to begin work without delay. A tranquilizer... one of the newest ones in the long, long series.

Technovelgy from Vulcan's Hammer, by Philip K. Dick.
Published by Ace Books in 1960
Additional resources -

This is a very early science-fictional use of this concept. As far as I can find out, the first transdermal drug patches were not commercially available until 1979 (for self-administration of scopolamine for motion sickness). In the abstract, you might consider such old technologies as the "plaster" or poultice placed against the skin (like the iconic mustard plaster), as the earliest example of a transdermal patch. However, it doesn't appear that they are placed against the skin to introduce helpful components in to the body by absorption through the skin; this development might have proceeded in the Sixties. See Transdermal patches: history, development and pharmacology for more information.

Modern-day (real-life) transdermal drug delivery patches offer significant advantages:

  • Multi-day doses from a single action
  • No injection trauma or complaints (leading to greater patient compliance for self-administered medications)
  • Direct control of drug administration to bloodstream increases efficacy and decreases incidence of dosage peaks and troughs
  • Patch confirms that drug is being administered
  • Perfect for delivery of drugs that have short half-lives, are too potent to be delivered orally or cannot be delivered through inhalation
  • Patch bypasses gastrointestinal tract avoids metabolism in the liver, bypassing the problem of liver toxicity.
Compare to the dermadisk from Neuromancer (1984) by Philip K. Dick.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Vulcan's Hammer
  More Ideas and Technology by Philip K. Dick
  Tech news articles related to Vulcan's Hammer
  Tech news articles related to works by Philip K. Dick

Transdermal Drug Capsule-related news articles:
  - Nanopatch Delivers Vaccines
  - Octopus Suckers Inspire Transdermal Patches

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