The pipeline product differs from the rest of the Unilife safety syringe range in that it can be fitted with needles of various sizes, including those of up to 3.75cm in length which are commonly used for intramuscular administration.
The Australian firm claims that this, coupled with a retraction safety system that allows operators to control the speed of needle withdrawal post-administration, is unique in the RTF syringe market.
“Unilife believes that the Unifill Select would be the world’s first known prefilled syringe with automatic and fully integrated safety features that allows healthcare workers to select and attach a suitably sized needle.”
Demand for vaccine delivery products is likely to increase significantly over the next few years, both as a result of the current H1N1 influenza pandemic and, in the longer term, as national vaccination programmes continue to expand in emerging pharmaceutical markets.
Recent research by Kalorama Information predicted that the global vaccines market will double in size and be worth around $39bn (€26bn) by 2013.
Unilife will hope Kalorama’s data, coupled with Greystone Associates’ prediction that three quarters of the vaccines launched in that period will be delivered via intramuscular injection (IM); will drive demand for its new product.
CEO Alan Shortall said the firm is “excited by emerging commercial opportunities for the Unifill Select, which we believe will help service the needs of pharmaceutical companies in fast-growing therapeutic markets.
"I believe that the addition of the Unifill Select to our product portfolio can substantially increase our business opportunities and further position us as a key participant in the drug delivery business.”
Nasdaq listing in 2010?
News of the US patent filing coincided with news that Unifill is thinking about joining the Nasdaq stock exchange in the US.
The firm, which is already listed on Australia’s ASX, plans to ask shareholder about the move on January 8 according to a report in The Australian. Shortall told the paper that such a move was a “no brainer” that would allow the firm to access US capital.
He added that: "The US is the biggest medical device market, the biggest capital market and it means we're stepping on to the stage with all the other majors."