The device is the first of its kind for the treatment of growth hormone deficiency, and is presented as a more reliable, convenient and easy to use alternative to traditional injection devices.
Intended for use with the company's Saizen (somatropin (rDNA origin) for injection) therapy, it is the latest product in the firm's drive to develop simplified devices for growth hormone treatment.
The device itself is used in three simple steps - attach needle, inject dose, detach needle. The dose is pre-set by a physician or health care professional thus reducing the risk of miscalculating dosage, and immediate confirmation of the injected dose is displayed for added reassurance for the patient.
In addition to this, the electronic display also permanently shows the number of injections left in the cartridge, as well as tracking the number of doses that have been administered allowing patient compliance to be monitored.
The device has been developed through consultations with healthcare professionals and patient groups, and according to the company has been well received thus far.
"This breakthrough technology reaffirms our commitment to innovation in metabolic diseases, especially in growth hormone diseases where compliance is a major limitation to treatment success," said Hans Christian Rohde, head of global therapeutic area, endocrinology, at Merck-Serono.
The new device will remain free for patients and healthcare professionals will make the decision as to whether to recommend the new product over traditional injection methods. A company spokesperson was, however, unable to disclose how production costs of the new device compared standard injection products.
Growth hormone deficiency affects around 20,000 children and 35,000 adults in the US alone, and tends to require long-term treatment with daily injections of recombinant growth hormone. Merck-Serono's Saizen treatment is currently indicated for the treatment of growth hormone deficiency in children and adults, Turner's syndrome and chronic renal failure outside the US. In 2005 the company also gained marketing approval in the EU for the treatment of short children born small for gestational age.
In 2005 Saizen was the company's third largest selling product, with sales reaching $206.5m (€159.4m), 13.4 per cent up on 2004.
Merck-Serono gained approval for the easypod device in January 2006, and it is already available in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Canada, Australia, Italy and Germany. The device will be rolled out in other regions around the world from January 2007 onwards.