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The emerging drug delivery landscape – by Amrita Tejasvi
Singapore, Dec 02, 2011: Drug delivery technology space in the life sciences industry is evolving fast. Since the concept of a drug is becoming more advanced, from being active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to complex biologics, the technical understanding of drug delivery is also entering a new era.
With significant paradigm shifts in drug discovery and development, the industry is also gearing up to adopt alternative drug delivery strategies in order to further facilitate drug development. Opportunities have significantly increased in the last few years. Pharmaceutical companies are collaborating with drug delivery firms to effectively target patient concerns. In the near future, such strategies will play a key role in driving the market.
The oral and injectable segments have traditionally dominated the drug delivery market and accounted for about 80 percent of the global sales in 2008. According to a report published by Datamonitor in December 2009, injectable drugs will see the biggest increase in annual sales at $49 billion between 2008 and 2014. In contrast to this, oral drugs will collectively decline by $10.9 billion over the same period.
Also, factors like the rate and period at which a drug is delivered into the body and making a specific part of the body the target of treatment are becoming the criteria for selection of a particular drug delivery technology.
But oral drugs and injections are just two of the many alternatives of drug delivery technology available in the market today. Newer methods, such as transdermal technologies, intelligent delivery systems capable of modulated delivery, nasal delivery and skin-based delivery technologies, have come up. And the change in the outlook of the drug delivery industry is further facilitating a better understanding of market dynamics, encouraging innovation for alternative technologies and giving rise to competition.
Taiwan-based auto-injector manufacturer, Scandinavian Health (SHL Group), believes that besides having advanced alternative drug delivery technologies, the number of injectable drugs would be substantially large in the future. There will be a new approach to design and convenience, painless modes of injectables and customization of method will be the priority. Analyzing the market opportunities, mainly in the US and Europe, SHL is strengthening its position as the market leader in auto-injectors. SHL has launched three auto-injector devices, disposable auto-injectors, precision pen injectors and Molly auto injectors this year and plans to launch several others in the next 18 months.
"Clearly, the demand for auto-injectors will increase significantly with a large number of biologics coming to the market. To respond to this ever-increasing demand, SHL is expanding its pipeline of devices by investing more in design expertise and R&D," says Mr Steven Kaufman, marketing director, SHL,Taiwan. SHL is planning to get more involved in areas, such as human factors engineering, so that the devices meet the needs of patient groups across the world. Looking at the market opportunities of auto-injectors, SHL is expanding its operations in Taiwan, Sweden and the US to ensure its capacity in order to meet the rising demand.
Similarly, global leader Roche, which has a large portfolio of biologics, believes that development of combination products with injection devices is an important development and a lucrative business area. Roche recently launched Pegasys Autoinjector that facilitates a quick, safe and convenient subcutaneous administration. This product is approved in the EU and the US markets.
"Development of a combination product provides an extra challenge technically to ensure compatibility of device and formulation. This relates to viscosity, stability and purity of the formulation administered with the device. Design of the device also needs to ensure easy and reliable handling of the product by the patient group it is being developed for," shares Ms Ursula Redeker, head, technical development biologics Europe, F Hoffmann-La Roche, while talking about regulations for combination products developed by Roche.