Patients Benefit From Needle-Free Drug Delivery

Erik Swain

There is some evidence that use of needle-free drug-delivery systems enhances patient compliance, and it might be wise for the U.S. healthcare system to encourage their use, a manufacturer told attendees at a recent conference.
 

Roger G. Harrison, PhD, chief executive officer of Antares Pharma Inc. (Exton, PA), which makes a needle-free delivery system called the Medi-Jector, spoke at the Center for Business Intelligence's forum on patient compliance, held April 12, 2002, in Philadelphia. He told attendees that patients who must self-administer injections are among the most difficult to keep in compliance. The obvious reason, he said, is the pain that needles can cause, but another reason is that self-administered injections are often used for chronic diseases such as diabetes, and "patients don't like to be reminded on a daily basis that they are ill."
 

However, he noted, a 1998 survey of Medi-Jector users found that the needle-free technology may have enhanced their compliance. In that survey, 63% of respondents said they experienced less pain than with needles, 85% would recommend the system to others, and 62% said the system gave them an improved attitude toward injections. But most crucially, Harrison noted, 57% said they are more willing to inject themselves with a needle-free system than with needles, and that sentiment is a key for compliance.
 

Most needle-free systems propel the drug with enough force to create a very small hole in the patient's skin through which it can enter.
 

Another study, also from 1998, found that patients preferred needle-free injectors to pen injectors by a margin of 67% to 22%, with 11% stating no preference, Harrison said. Also in that group of patients, 72% found the pen more annoying to use, 72% found the pen more painful to use, and 61% found the needle-free system easier to use.
 

However, he noted, Europe and Japan have adopted the technology at a greater rate than the United States so far. He attributed this to a lack of U.S. patient education and the differences in the way diabetes is managed between the regions. In Europe, he noted, most diabetes patients see diabetologists, who are aware of all the latest technological developments in the management of the disease. In the United States, however, most diabetes patients have their disease managed by general practitioners, who may not be aware of all the technologies available to them.

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