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Industry Insight

We often think of self-medication as popping down to the local pharmacist and buying tablets for our headache or a linctus for our cough. But self-medication is an increasing part of prescribing by medical practitioners using a wide range of medical devices, giving a dose of drug to the patient whenever and wherever he or she needs it.

In this area, pressurised metered dose inhalers are perhaps the most widely used and recognised. Gerallt Williams of Aptar Pharma discusses how these have been in use for at least 50 years but must continually evolve to meet legislation and the needs of patients in an increasingly ageing population. The pharmaceutical industry is continually looking to add value to its products, and adopting novel technologies is one of the ways it can achieve this.

Williams’s article considers a range of solutions to the challenges faced by metered dose inhalers, as well as assessing opportunities for new products in the marketplace, and addressing the needs of these products in the growing emerging markets of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China).

One area of innovation in self-administration devices is leading to ever-more ingenious designs, as revealed by Steven Kaufman and Patty Sa at SHL Group. In addition to the need for injectable delivery with large biological molecules, the authors explore the increasing trend for self-administration. In particular, they examine the need and legislation surrounding combination therapies in auto-injection devices, and note that the use of combination products has stimulated changes to various regulations and guidelines, prompting a need to understand new patient usage requirements.

This in turn leads to ever-increasing cooperation between the device manufacturers and biopharmaceutical companies to ensure that drug and device combination products are compliant with regulations, meet the needs of a growing patient population, and are also innovative in a very competitive market.

Alan Shortall of Unilife Corporation raises another problem. He notes that many biologics in the pharmaceutical pipeline are very viscous, or are required to be used in volumes too large for traditional handheld injection devices of the type outlined by Kaufman and Sa. This has led to a new class of wearable injectors which allows patients to self-administer large doses over an extended period of time. Shortall expects that over the next 10 years, injectors of this sort – which have easily wearable characteristics – will become commonplace, since many pharmaceutical companies have several molecules in the clinical pipeline being targeted at this particular injectable format.

In this edition of PMPS, we feature three articles which consider distribution of pharmaceuticals, especially those that are temperature-sensitive (Almac Clinical Services, CSafe Global, Laminar Medica). Clearly, temperature sensitivity of a drug dosage form can significantly add to the final cost of the product, and the challenges of maintaining the quality of the product – while keeping down the cost of distribution – are discussed here.

It is always good to hear what executives in the packaging and manufacturing sector think about hot topics of the day. In this edition, we have sourced three interviews with industry experts who debate Total Cost of Packaging methods (Dividella), advances in automation (Kawasaki Robotics) and how packaging manufacturers can focus on customer service and patient needs (Packaging Coordinators, Inc). These Q&As give us valuable insight into the workings of our industry, and in future editions we hope to share many more of these interviews with you.

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