I often interact with technologists, patients and healthcare professionals who have a particular interest in injectable drug delivery devices such as large volume wearable injectors (patch pumps) and auto-injectors. It is frequent during these interactions that a very open question – along the lines of What will the future of injectable drug delivery devices look like? – is dropped on the table.
Here, in no particular order, are 8 qualities that I see injectors having in the future:
Universal: They will operate with any primary container – e.g. vial and PFS – and without the need for a drug transfer step.
Customisable: Embedded electronic features will allow customisation depending on the intended user type. Certain features will be switched off, for example, for patients who are not comfortable with technology.
Upgradable: Connectivity capabilities will allow devices to be remotely upgraded – ensuring they stay in tune with market trends and patient needs. This will make the task of lifecycle management easier, and upgrades will be done at the touch of a button.
Green: Devices will further align with the increased requirement for greener technologies, and catch up with environmental requirements. Energy-harvesting technologies will replace batteries and make the end-of-life management of devices much easier and greener.
Empowering: Injectors will allow patients to take control of their disease state – by monitoring their drug performance and recording relevant everyday activities. Access to real-time and historical data will empower patients who want the ability to better manage their disease state. Drug delivery devices will also be able to give feedback to patients – for example, on compliance and whether they use their device correctly – and this information will be followed up with instructions on how to improve on this.
Intelligent: Delivery devices will be able to distinguish between the different types of drugs they deliver, how much they deliver and when they deliver them. They will be used as authentication devices for drugs administered, providing extra control to the supply chain of drugs.
Likable: Drug delivery devices will continue to follow the paradigm of insulin delivery devices. They will adopt design features which resonate better with patients who primarily consider themselves as consumers. Hence, it is very likely that they will increasingly look more like consumer accessories.
Extended shelf life: Devices will have limited features which may limit their shelf life and constrain the manufacturing and supply processes of manufacturers. For example, they may have energy-harvesting capabilities instead of batteries.
It will be very interesting to see how injectable drug delivery devices evolve in the future – and which qualities will dominate. My guess is that the users will have the final say.
For more than 50 years, we have been helping clients turn business opportunities into commercial successes, whether they are launching first-to-market products, entering new markets or expanding existing markets through new technologies. Our auto-injector, inhaler, injection device and wearable injector development programmes extend from concept creation through to industrialisation, with a ‘quality by design’ approach and full compliance with international regulatory standards.