Key trends in respiratory drug delivery

Find the authors
on LinkedIn:

It was great to be back in person for the Drug Delivery to the Lungs conference in Edinburgh recently. Here, we share insights on three major themes from the event and a trend we think will reshape the future of respiratory drug delivery in the next 10-20 years.

Sustainable pMDIs

The shift in pMDIs from using HFC propellants towards less polluting gases has gained momentum with California imposing a ban on the sale and distribution of R227ea from the end of 2030 and R134a from the end of 2032, including medical use. This provides an end-of-the-line for the sale of all current pMDI products in California.

The transition needs formulators, device designers, scientists, and other disciplines to collaborate to solve the challenges presented by the different physical properties of the new gases. The assessment of all types of inhalers from a sustainability perspective has advanced, too, with life cycle analysis (LCA) and carbon credits schemes being discussed – our sustainability team provides reviews and recommendations for a range of medical devices to help our clients improve their devices and provide evidence to back up their green credentials.

Usability for adherence

Time and again, studies show that it’s challenging to measure asthma and COPD patients’ adherence to their medication. Medication adherence appears much lower than for other diseases – estimates range from 22-78% adherence, compared to 70% for diabetes.

Low adherence needs to be addressed by making devices easier to use and tailoring them to the patient’s needs. Reducing user steps is key to make using the device easier, but patient feedback and tailoring to specific needs are necessary, too – something connected inhalers could help solve through digital reminders appropriate to the patient’s needs. This is just one of the ways that CDP Mosaic, our digital ecosystem catalyst, can be used. Independently verifying that increased adherence is due to connected or smart inhalers is difficult to prove – something the industry is investigating.

Modelling of drug delivery

Several talks at this year’s event covered modelling, with in-silico methods advancing in capability and popularity over the last 10 years. Topics covered included constructing a full airway model to assess drug deposition under different breathing profiles and using maths with physiological signals to detect disease and drug-induced changes. Posters demonstrated an even wider range of possible models, including our own.

Our modelling and simulation teams produce models for clients that highlight potential robustness issues with mechanical components and digital sensing techniques at early stages to determine suitable technologies for medical devices.

Sector expertise

We make drug delivery more effective for everyone

Learning from the past, looking to the future

Federico Lavorini, Professor and Consultant in Respiratory Medicine at the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Careggi University Hospital, Florence, Italy, gave an excellent summary of drug delivery over the last 100 years, including innovations where design has reduced user error.

Further talks considered what pharma could learn from other sectors, especially as we move from ‘sick care’ to ‘health care’ – where technology identifies and treats conditions before they become symptomatic. Our Drug Delivery and Insight & Strategy teams work closely together to understand upcoming trends and draw on insights into consumer expectations from the consumer and digital sectors for our clients.

Biologic treatments are coming to respiratory drug delivery and are likely to use Soft Mist Inhalers (SMIs) and Dry Powder Inhalers (DPIs) for delivery, with current trends looking to lean heavily on DPIs. This is likely to lead to the development of new, higher-performance DPIs to provide the best efficiency delivering these high-cost treatments to the patient. We have dramatically increased the performance of DPI engines for our clients through our science-based approach to increase fine particle fraction for their devices.

How we can help

Our team are experienced in all stages of the development of drug delivery devices for a wide range of scenarios and applications in the medical industry, with a dedicated team working in these areas. Here at CDP, we have these specialists all under one roof to partner with you to bring your device to market and can also draw on the learnings of our colleagues in consumer markets to guide on relevant future consumer expectations.

Find the authors on LinkedIn:

Mark Allen

Consultant Mechanical Engineer