Needle-free injection coming of age

Related tags Health care Injection

Needle-free injection systems are finally emerging as a serious
alternative to traditional syringes, despite first being introduced
in the middle of the last century.

Decades after being introduced, improvements in injector design and performance and evolving health care market forces have finally positioned needle-free injection as a serious alternative to traditional syringes, according to a new report from Greystone Associates.

Total worldwide unit sales of syringe-based products will continue to grow, but needle-free injection will increase market share at the expense of traditional syringes, says the report, driven by the safety concerns of health care professionals and the growing market for parenteral drug self-administration.

Despite a huge amount of research into new delivery methods, the vast majority of drugs are still administered in one of two ways - orally or parenterally. Therapeutic and prophylactic substances that cannot tolerate passage through the digestive tract or which are poorly absorbed are developed in injectable form.

For the last century, traditional syringes have filled the role of administering these drugs, and the worldwide market for syringes exceeds 12 billion units annually. Greystone​ predicts that the total market for syringe-based injection devices will grow in excess of 7 per cent for the remainder of this decade, but sales of traditional syringes will continue to contract as more practitioners and health care facilities adopt alternatives such as safety syringes (to address the sharps cross-contamination issue) and needle-free injectors (particularly in pediatric units and diabetes clinics).

The report notes that this market shift is being driven by increased regulatory activity and user awareness of the risks associated with blood-borne exposure to such pathogens as HIV and hepatitis, and the desire by consumers with chronic conditions requiring parenteral drug administration, such as diabetics, for a less invasive method for delivering drugs through the skin.

While needle-free injection has failed to live up to its potential since being introduced in the middle of the last century, due mainly to poor quality, design issues and weak management, a handful of well-managed drug delivery companies with strong cash flow and a commitment to the market are positioned to make a significant impact on the drug delivery marketplace, according to George Perros, Greystone's managing director.

One of the most commonly used technologies in needle-free delivery is jet injection in which a compression system (mechanical or gas) is used to accelerate drug particles to a relatively high velocity and pressure, allowing them to penetrate the skin and be deposited subcutaneously or into the epidermis.

To date the greatest success for NFI has been in consumer/self-injection applications such as insulin injection, according to the report.

For more information on this report, contact Greystone at​.

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