Syringes on the way out?
According to the World Health Organization two thirds of the cost associated with immunization campaigns are not going into the drugs but rather to the delivery systems, including the syringes and the required training that doctors and nurses need to operate them. Now, if you consider that the estimated cost of such immunization campaigns over the next ten years adds up to $35 billion you can imagine that people are looking for alternative delivery systems.
One of the possible alternatives to the old syringes are the inhalers, which delivers the drugs directly to the lungs. The main problem of such inhalers is their cost, traditionally those devices were very complex, composed of more than 20 moving parts, and they would cost as much as half a dollar (as opposed to a couple of cents for the syringes). Recently, however, researchers from the Cambridge Consultants group started developing an inhaler without moving parts that could cost only 4 cents.
A consultant to the World Health Organization commented: “Everyone in the field dreams of a future with these kinds of simple low-cost vaccine delivery systems. Moving to a needle-free model is a goal most of us share. Imagine being able to distribute an inhalant vaccine simply through the post-office system, in a format that anyone in the household can be trained to use. It would be a wonderful switch over.”
The principle behind the new inhale is not that complex, once the user inhales the special internal shape should create a small tornado, delivering the drug through the air. Despite the reduced cost people involved with the project said that the gadget is presenting a 40% increase in performance (in terms of drug absorption) compared to traditional inhalers. The product will need to pass through clinical tests, which usually takes from 3 to 4 years.
Reference: Technology Review