Drug delivery for pain relief is a market that has the potential to explode when one considers the number of patients each year that require some sort of pain control.
Additionally, the need to deliver doses accurately and at regular intervals is a primary concern amongst those that are incapable of doing so.
Latest figures suggest that the market of the European pain management market pegs sales of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioids, and anti-migraine drugs at a total of $2.7bn (€2.1 bn) in 2001.
The market is projected to soar past the $5.3bn mark in 2008.
The oral adhesive disc, developed by >BioDelivery Sciences, has been produced using the company's proprietary BEMA drug delivery platform. This consists of a dissolvable, dime-sized polymer disc for application to mucosal (inner lining of cheek) membranes.
The discs have been designed to deliver a dose of drug across mucous membranes for time-critical conditions like breakthrough cancer pain, or trauma cases where intravenous lines or injections are unavailable or not practical.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), pain is a prevalent symptom in cancer patients, affecting up to 50 per cent of those undergoing active cancer treatment and up to 90 per cent of those with advanced disease.
Chronic cancer patients frequently experience two types of pain: persistent and breakthrough. Persistent cancer pain is characterised as continuous pain present for long periods of time.
Breakthrough pain is caused either by the cancer itself or the cancer treatment and is connected to activities like walking or dressing.
Fast-acting medicines that remain in the body for a short period of time serve as the best treatment for breakthrough pain.
Taken when needed, the medication is used as soon as the breakthrough pain begins. One breakthrough pain medication is the opiate Fentanyl.
Biodelivery Sciences' oral disc technology goes head-to-head with Cephalon's Actiq - the current market leader.
Actiq is a recently-developed solid formulation of fentanyl citrate on a stick in the form of a lollipop that dissolves slowly in the mouth for transmucosal absorption.
A portion of the medication is absorbed quickly across the lining of the mouth into the bloodstream. The remaining medication is swallowed and slowly absorbed.
The drug enters the bloodstream and is carried throughout the central nervous system-the brain and spinal cord-where it works to relieve pain.
In a crossover study comparing Fentanyl and Actiq, results showed that the fentanyl formulation provided faster absorption and greater concentration of the drug.
"The results of our study demonstrated that fentanyl could be delivered more effectively and easily using the BEMA technology," said BioDelivery CEO Mark Sirgo.
"Besides allowing greater absorption of fentanyl, the BEMA disc was easier to use, as it only required seconds to apply."