European drug delivery market is segmented on the basis of route of administration into nine categories - oral, pulmonary, transdermal, injectable, ocular, nasal, topical, implantable, and transmucosal drug delivery. Over the years, drug delivery technologies have grown phenomenally from plain drug reformulation and release technologies, to innovative platforms that hold a huge potential for the effective delivery of biologicals and novel drugs.
Injectable devices have seen immense technological advancement in the 20th century, ranging from prefilled and fillable syringes, to auto-injectors and self-injection devices. The past decade has highlighted the numerous indications that can be treated with the help of injectable drug delivery technologies. Different types of injectable devices being utilized for drug delivery in the current times are prefilled syringes, fillable syringes, auto injectors, pen injectors, and needle-free injectors.
Auto injectors are medical devices designed to deliver a particular drug to the body for a single dose. They are intended for self-administration by patients, hence by design, they are quite simplistic. The auto injector has a unique design, which keeps the needle tip covered prior to injection into the epithelial layer of the skin. It also boasts of a passive safety mechanism, which acts as a back-up to prevent accidental injection of the drug. When the patient presses a button located on the top half of the injector, the syringe needle is inserted into the skin and the drug is administered successfully. There is provision made for the patient to see whether the drug has been fully delivered, with the help of a small transparent panel. In spite of its simplicity, there is one concern with auto injectors. Since they contain glass syringes, it can make them fragile to use as well as increase chances of external contamination by the patient. Hence, most companies have been looking at addressing this issue by replacing the glass syringe with a plastic one.
The first prefilled syringe-based auto injector was launched in the 1990s by GlaxoSmithKline to treat migraine. Reusable auto injectors have also been used since the 1980s and are increasingly being used for new technologies such as alpha-interferon for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). Most of the new therapies that make use of injectable drug delivery systems involve drugs that do not contain a preservative. Hence, auto injectors make ideal medical devices for single-dose drug administrations.
Another popular form of injectors is pen injectors, widely used among the world’s diabetic population. It is also commonly known as an insulin pen that is used to inject insulin hormone to a patient suffering from diabetes. Some pen injectors make use of a vial for dispensing the insulin inside, while some others use non-replaceable cartridges for the same purpose. With nearly 1/8th of the world’s population suffering from diabetes, type I and II, pen injectors serve as a great respite to administer insulin with their easy-to-use design and painless injection procedure. One major disadvantage of using a pen injector over an auto injector is that the former is usually more expensive. Moreover, a minute amount of insulin is left inside the pen injector and is not delivered to the body, making it less economical in the long run. Also, some diabetic patients need to administer two different types of insulin, mixing them in minute proportions in the syringe before administration to the body. Insulin pens cannot be used for the same purpose due to their design, making them less conducive to be used by all diabetic patients.
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