Publication Name: ETHealthWorld
Date: June 2018
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Several factors have newly arisen which will now lead to a massive expansion in the need for more advanced auto injectors in the coming years. As per WHO, 5% of the world’s population has autoimmune diseases.
By Suresh Kumar Natarajan
Corporate Manager, Product Design, Tata Elxsi
History is the evidence that humans have always cured illnesses by means of plants. It was always read, written and believed that plants have huge medicinal qualities. In the evolution of life on planet Earth, medicine has drastically evolved, and is still undergoing massive changes. Digital transformation has brought about unimaginable changes across industries, and Healthcare and Medicine is one of them.
Medicines have two basic purposes, one for prevention of diseases and the other to treat and cure diseases after diagnosis. Both come with an objective to promote health and well-being of the people. Drug administration is a vital part of both prevention and treatment, and it can be divided into four broad routes: Oral, Topical, Inhalation and Injection.
Injectables – The most effective drug administration tool
One of the most effective and convenient methods of drug administration is through injections which have a better absorption rate, and the onset of the drug’s effect is fast when compared to the oral routes. It can also have very long action by means of sustained release of drugs.
The three most frequently used injection routes in drug administration are Intravenous (IV), subcutaneous (SC), and intramuscular (IM). IV injections are generally administered in hospitals. The SC and IM injections are either administered by medical practitioners by means of syringes or self-administered by patients, or by untrained personnel with the help of pre-filled syringes or injector pens.
How Auto-injectors are transforming the overall drug delivery experience
Several factors have newly arisen which will now lead to a massive expansion in the need for more advanced auto injectors in the coming years. As per WHO, 5% of the world’s population has autoimmune diseases. The realisation by clinicians that new drug categories offer a chance of cure and disease modulation rather than simply modifying the symptoms has led to an explosion in the demand and need for biologics and sustained release drugs.
In addition, the market has evolved and is exploring all options outside of the traditional glass syringes, plastic and disposable syringes that are being replaced with pre-filled syringes (PFS) and pre-filled vials (cartridges). These work well with increasingly popular injector pen devices. The options ensure that a patient is being given the right dosage eliminating possible errors. They also make injection easier, safer and convenient for both doctors and patients.
Injector pen devices also known as auto-injectors, uses pre-filled vials that are designed to deliver a fixed dose or to set / deliver a variable dose of a particular drug each time. With self-injection pens, patients can take their medication at home or at their place of convenience without going to the hospital.
Changing patient expectations and how healthcare companies are tackling these rising demands?
From a patient’s perspective, factors drivingtheir preferences include ease of use, ease of learning, pen functionality (dose setting options, injection force requirements, injection automation, dosing accuracy, etc), pen appearance (colour, material, finish, size, shape etc), and pen features enabling ease of use. Since these pens can be self-administered by the patients or even by untrained personnels, it is imperative that the device design should be intuitive, safe, easy to use, and delivered with precision every single time.
There is an interest in enhanced user experience by integrating latest communication technologies and development of suitable applications on devices or smartphones, where the pens can be Bluetooth or IoT-enabled. Design and technology providers are integrating these technologies with existing auto-injectors. The design of electro-mechanical drug delivery pens have also evolved to cater to this need, as a sleek alternative to the existing mechanical devices.
Challenges faced by technology providers and medical device manufacturers
Designing and delivering safe and effective products that reliably meet customer needs, to improve their health and quality of life, is central to healthcare industry objectives. Advances in the understanding of a range of diseases have resulted in new therapies and an application of a combination of drugs and/or biological products with drug delivery systems, which are designated in general as combination products.
There are several regulations across the globe, which need to be complied with for these combination products. However, drug requirements are taken care of by pharmaceutical companies, design and technology providers need to consider global and regional device regulations and design controls, which are further implemented by pharmaceutical companies or manufacturers.
Another challenge in design and development of these devices is to innovate newer ways of dispensing the drug. However, the user steps remains the same as in Reference Listed Drug (RLD) devices. This compliments products, which are developed as generic, and are successfully being addressed in India. Our country is a leading producer of generic medicines and caters to most of the developing nations by providing lower priced drug formulations.
Preparing for the future
With increasing awareness and adoption of new-age drug delivery systems, we are witnessing a massive boom in the injectables. The overall revenues from this segment is expected to grow due to the rising need for targeted and sustained drug delivery. According to Future Market Insights, the global auto-injectors market is to be US$ 7,000 mn by 2026 with CAGR of 15.1%.
Most healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies who claim that the future of injectables looks highly promising are welcoming this shifting landscape. Humankind has used and evolved medicine for centuries now, and ‘Smart’ medication is definitely the way ahead.