Over the past few years, there has been an evident shift towards the self-administration of drugs / therapies. This is largely attributed to the several limitations associated with the conventional drug delivery systems, such as chances of dosing / medication errors, possible risk of microbial contamination, needlestick injuries, and affiliated costs (of diagnosing and treating infections / diseases acquired via such mishaps). Moreover, a rise in preference for self-administrable drugs / therapies has captured the interest of several stakeholders in this industry who are developing user-friendly drug delivery solutions for the administration of both insulin and non-insulin drugs.
Specifically, Large volume wearable injectors are used for subcutaneous drug delivery, have become a preferred choice for administration of drugs in the home-care setting. These are small, portable wearable devices, which permit the administration of large volumes (more than 1 mL) of drugs / therapeutic substances, including complex biologics. These are attached directly to the skin and feature an integrated prefilled drug reservoir, a sterile fluid path and needle system. These injection systems primarily comprise of the following components:
- Main pump unit containing a drug reservoir
- Medication delivery unit
Depending on how sophisticated the device is, one or both the components can be worn by the patient. Devices, such as Omnipod (Insulet), and SmartDose Electronic Wearable Injector (West Pharmaceutical Services), are some of the examples of approved large volume wearable injectors.
There are several major factors that we believe are likely to escalate the adoption of large volume wearable injectors in the near future.
It is reported that around 60% adults in the US suffer from at least one chronic condition with close to 40% having two or more of such diseases. The treatment regimens often include frequent painful intravenous drug administration, specifically for high-viscosity and high-volume drugs. In comparison to conventional approaches, large volume wearable injectors allow administration of high-volume formulations and viscous drug solutions outside the clinical environment without the assistance of trained professionals.
This is particularly important as the pharmaceutical industry is focused on reformulation of the notable medications to be delivered via the subcutaneous route owing to the patent expiration of several biologic drugs in the coming years. It is worth highlighting that the biologic drugs market is anticipated to be worth around USD 180 billion in 2030, paving way for the development of more large volume wearable injectors to deliver the novel subcutaneous formulations.
Variants of large volume wearable injectors are disposable with an in-built automatic needle retraction system to avoid needlestick injuries post drug delivery. Healthcare professionals are often susceptible to needlestick injuries while drawing blood, administering parenteral drugs or disposing used needles which can lead to the transmission of deadly blood-borne diseases. In the US the estimated cost of a single needle injury treatment can cost around USD 500 to USD 4,000 leading to an annual economic burden ranging from USD 118 million to USD 591 million. Hence, large volume wearable injectors save on healthcare resources making self-injection system much more cost effective. In addition to the chronic diseases, these devices are effective in emergency situations, for life-threatening indications, and in conditions where immediate pain relief is required, such as for wounded military personnel during wartime.
Even though large volume wearable injectors are relatively simple devices, there are still a few uncertainties surrounding the development of such products. These include interaction of the drug substance with primary container material affecting the stability and potency of the drug, technical dosing errors and competition by alternative self-injection devices. Nonetheless, the field is presently witnessing a lot of innovation, such as the development of integrated mobile applications with smart health monitoring, artificial intelligence algorithms and other interesting features (including provisions for reminders, and the ability to connect to web-based portals for sharing medical data with the concerned healthcare providers) We believe that such efforts are likely to drive growth in this market over the coming years.