Pointed Debate - Industry experts discuss the benefits and challenges of self-administration of injectable therapies. - BioPharm International


Pointed Debate
Industry experts discuss the benefits and challenges of self-administration of injectable therapies.

BioPharm International
pp. 42-48

Potter (Glide): Rising healthcare costs mean that treating patients is becoming more and more expensive. If a patient can self-administer their medication then this reduces the time they need to spend with a healthcare professional and, thus, reduces cost. Most medications can be taken orally, but many peptides and proteins have to be injected to ensure they are not damaged by the acidic environment in the gastrointestinal tract. If a patient is to be trained to self-inject, however, then the technology needs to be simple to ensure that it is operated correctly. In addition, medication compliance is a serious issue with many patients; the easier and more convenient the product is to use, then the more likely the patient is to take their medication. These needs for lower cost of goods, ease of use, and convenience are also shaping the evolution in drug delivery technologies suitable for self-injection.

Sadowski (Antares): Self-administered products currently account for about half of the of therapeutic biologics market. The simple reason for this is that more biological agents requiring injection are being used in chronic conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and multiple sclerosis. Since it is both costly and inconvenient for patients to go to their healthcare provider to administer these biologics daily or weekly on a chronic basis, the burden falls upon the patient. Fortunately, technologies exist that make the self-medication process as comfortable and easy as taking a pill.

BioPharm: Which technologies are most suited for self-administration and why?

Which injection technology is gaining the most ground in the market? ( POLL, BIOPHARM INTERNATIONAL ONLINE, 2012)
Kaufman (SHL Group): As patients are not medically trained, empowering them to feel comfortable enough to properly inject themselves requires a device that can make them feel safe both mentally and physically. To address this, devices with special features and technologies, such as the autoinjector, are often designed so the patient never sees the needle and may finish administering the drug within a relatively short period of time. While reactions to physical pain may vary for each patient, the mental pain connected to visually seeing a needle inject can be reduced, especially when the patient also has control over when to initiate the injection. As a result, autoinjectors are becoming a commonly accepted drug-delivery technology for self-administrated injectable therapies.

However, it is important to note that each patient needs to be properly trained on how to use such devices and they must be provided with very clear instructions for use. The use of picture-oriented instructions and video has been a good step towards addressing this issue. Another potential drawback related to self-administration technology is the cost associated with developing a drug delivery device and the actual cost of each device. At this time, it is much easier for larger biopharmaceutical companies, which have the necessary financial resources, to initiate these programmes. Additionally, the market value of the drug must be able to justify the cost of the device.

Novara (BD): The most suitable technology depends on many factors:

  • Technical specifications: A high volume or highly viscous biologic, which may be infused in a hospital setting, may require a patch injector/patch pump to deliver the medicine in the home setting. It is also important that careful consideration is given to the delivery of drugs that have a unique viscosity or volume that needs to be delivered.
  • Competitive dynamics: Pharma and biotech companies are increasingly looking to their device as a source of differentiation.
  • Patient factors: Certain patients will have certain needs and preferences given their condition and how mature that market is with devices.
  • Frequency of administration: Whether a drug is injected on a daily basis, versus a weekly or monthly basis, is also an important factor (along with the cost factor).

All these considerations are crucial factors in selecting the right technology. For device manufacturers, it's important to have expertise across a range of delivery platforms and technologies in order to meet the above needs for customers.

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