Have you ever considered getting a flu shot but quailed at the sight of the needle? Lots of people hate getting injections, but this delivery method is still the predominant technique for administering biological drugs. Rising demand for vaccines and other biologicals is one factor spurring manufacturers to seek alternative delivery methods that could one day rescue the needlephobic.
Kalorama Information’s recent market-research report titled “Drug Delivery Markets” predicts a heightened interest in needle-free and implantable delivery methods for vaccines. The report describes the potential growth in delivery devices, particularly autoinjectors and pen injectors such as the EpiPen. Formulation techniques such as PEGylation, microspheres, and nanoparticles make up another portion of the report.
The document also includes inhaled insulin, that tantalizing prospect for diabetics that has not yet found commercial success. For example, Kalorama mentions the ProMaxx pulmonary-insulin product that Baxter Biopharma Solutions (Round Lake, IL) is developing. The report also assesses the prospects of drug-delivery companies such as Alkermes (Cambridge, MA) and Nektar (San Carlos, CA) that have tried to develop inhaled insulin.
This report is another reminder that vaccines and other biologicals seem to be where the excitement is in the drug industry today. Even if the industry’s pipelines are not impressive, it looks like innovations will still emerge in the form of drug-delivery methods. Who knows, maybe the demand for biopharmaceuticals will inspire the development of unconventional ways to administer vaccines. MedImmune’s (Gaithersburg, MD) inhaled swine-flu vaccine could point the way for other therapies.
And today’s research will almost surely affect the way we deliver small-molecule drugs, too. Maybe the dominance of oral solid-dosage forms will end in the not-too-distant future. The economic pressures that are leading the industry to focus on drug-delivery methods make this a distinct possibility.