Inhaler Benefits on the Horizon



Interest in compliance packaging, growing research into particle technology, and expanding treatment options could lead companies to further pursue inhalers and nasal sprays as drug-delivery methods. As analysts monitor progress, they offer suggestions to manufacturers.

Business analysis firm Datamonitor notes that patient compliance can improve with assistance from dose-monitoring devices in inhalers. Senior respiratory analyst Lisette Oversteegen, who authored a recent Datamonitor report on inhaler technology, lauds the compliance benefit of breath-actuated devices.

The devices can optimize compliance because “medication is only released when all prerequisites for successful inhalation are met.” By employing an easy guide of inhalation that leads patients through a few steps before it can dispense medicine, the devices help minimize mistakes.

“In an ideal world, a device [should have] multiple automatic feedback mechanisms to reassure patients that the drug has been successfully released from the inhaler and deposited in the lungs,” says Oversteegen.

“Particularly for patients with a smaller lung capacity or lower lung function, it can be difficult to generate a sufficiently strong airflow to disaggregate the active molecules from their carriers, resulting in lower deposition in the lung,” she says, noting that this occurs with dry powder inhalers (DPIs). “This can in turn lead to uncontrolled symptoms, like bronchoconstriction in the case of asthma and COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease].”

While Datamonitor sees a need for device changes, medical technology consulting firm Greystone Associates believes additional illnesses can be treated by adjusting inhaled technology. In its report last spring, the group said more than a dozen new indications for inhaled drug formulations are undergoing the clinical development process.

“The list includes several neurology conditions, metabolic disorders, inherited diseases, pain management, immunology and infectious diseases,” according to the report. “Several of these inhaled drug candidates have the potential to impact the therapeutic markets they target, effectively changing the way important illnesses are treated.”

This goes beyond the typical targets of atomized medication such as asthma or COPD, which results from continued respiratory stress. Because inhaled medications target central airways and deliver medication immediately to affected patients, this quick onset of action provides a successful and appealing delivery method for other illnesses.

In an attempt to meet some of these new needs, Valois Pharma (France) produces a nasal delivery device that is suitable to deliver antihistamines for patients with allergic rhinitis. The delivery method provides patients with immediate relief while treating a chronic condition. In addition, the company offers a DPI called Prohaler, a multidose pulmonary inhaler that seeks to aid with patient compliance.

“The industry is currently putting a lot of efforts in improving patient compliance and performance characteristics in inhalers,” says Guillaume Brouet, business development, pulmonary. “For example, simplify using sequence of inhalers.”

Another company that offers advances in inhaler technology is Boehringer Ingelheim (Ingelheim, Germany). It has created a propellant-free inhaler device called Respimat, which the company calls a Soft Mist inhaler. Instead of using a typical chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) propellant, it employs a pressure-release technology.

A liquid solution is forced by the mechanical power of a tensioned spring, pressed through a capillary tube, and passed through a nozzle system to produce a cloud. The slow release of the medication increases drug deposition the lungs over many pressurized metered dose inhalers (pMDIs).


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