The latest medical ‘revolution’ is taking place in the area of drug delivery. The standard modes of drug-delivery, such as tablets, capsules, and injection with needles, have been gradually shifting toward more sophisticated methods of administration. Our constant battle against disease and illness keeps pushing researchers to come up with new and more effective treatment strategies. The latest form of defense has been developed as a complement to ‘next generation’ medications; the gun in which to load the bullets of medicine.
This new form of drug dosing, dubbed ‘needle-free drug delivery,’ is the newest technological advancement in drug administration. Seeing as market trends predict the needle-free industry to reach over 6 billion dollars by 20161, it is prime time for the pharmaceutical industry to pounce on the development and production of such products. As medications are becoming increasingly more complex (time-release, extended-release, polymer-coated, and so forth) and increasingly more effective at treating the conditions they are designed to treat, needle-free delivery has been proven to be successful as an innovative method of dosing.
The improvements brought about by needle-free drug delivery are many. For one, the possibility of contracting contagious needle-borne disease(s) (like hepatitis and HIV) is virtually eliminated, since there is no contact between the delivery system and the patient’s blood. Also eliminated is the phobia that many people have toward needles and injections, and the pain caused by needle injection. Compared to oral medications and injections, needle-free dosing blasts over conventional treatment obstacles like needle injuries, poor absorption in the gastrointestinal tract, and medication activity in areas of the body that it is not meant to affect2 (side effects are a result of this). Now that’s what you call an efficient medical tool!
Let’s take insulin as an example. What started with basic needles and syringes for insulin injection in diabetic patients has become portable and personal medical kits with easy to load reusable cartridges. Needle-free drug delivery methods use jet injection techniques, which involve a high pressure liquid blast, fuelled by compressed air, to penetrate the skin and administer a dose of the medication. Needle-free drug delivery offers a relatively low cost (especially for reusable devices used by patients with chronic conditions like diabetes who require daily drug doses), safe, and reliable method of administration. It is no surprise that it is becoming more common practice for medical professionals to avoid needle based medication when possible.3
With medical technology becoming more and more focused in fields of research like nano-particles and microencapsulation, the coupling of ‘next generation’ drugs with needle-free drug delivery systems equips us with a new arsenal of disease fighting technology. The needle-free industry has pulled the plunger back and is thrusting out a surge of new drug administration standards. It will definitely be interesting to see what developments are to come about in this field in the near future.
- Marketwire. Innovations in Needle-Free Drug Delivery Driven by Complex New Therapeutics. Retrieved 08-31-2011. http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/innovations-in-needle-free-drug-delivery-driven-by-complex-new-therapeutics-1551634.htm.
- Mitragotri, Samir. National Academy of Engineering. Recent Development in Needle-Free Drug Delivery. Retrieved 08-31-2011. http://www.nae.edu/Publications/Bridge/ FrontiersofEngineering12256/RecentDevelopmentinNeedle-FreeDrugDelivery.aspx.
- Brooks, Kristin. Contract Pharma. Expansion of biologics drives technology. Retrieved 09-01-2011. http://www.contractpharma.com/issues/2011-06/view_features/advances-in-drug-delivery