Delivery device manufacturer Bespak recently launched the Syrina 2.25, its most compact auto-injector which uses the firm’s VapourSoft technology, offering the ability to deliver high viscous drugs.
The product was developed to deal with the increasing trend of large pharma firms in developing more viscous formulations for newer injectable products, as well as to feed demand from speciality companies looking for a device to differentiate their drug in the market, according to Bespak’s Global Business Development Lead Steven Kaufman.
“The common goal is to enable patients to self-administer the product avoiding the cost and inconvenience of them having to seek a health care professional,” he told this publication. “This is expected to also improve patient compliance and quality of life allowing them to better get on with their daily routine.”
Updating devices or switching to a new device completely is an effective way to extend product lifecycles, especially as more originator biologics begin facing competition from biosimilars and biobetters, he continued.
"Big pharma has taken the lead in driving the advancement of drug delivery devices, ultimately combination products. But now, before a device is even launched to the market some of the more progressive companies are already looking towards a 2nd generation device or, at the very least, device enhancements," he said.
But while Big Pharma is looking to update its devices prior to the arrival of biosimilars or biobetters, "new entrants developing biosimilars are looking to introduce their drug in an even better device than the innovator," meaning demand for specialty devices is being driven from all sectors.
“Clearly the companies with the most proactive approach, related device experience, and ideally, in house device expertise will clearly have the upper hand,” he added. However, this “will need to be combined with selecting the right drug delivery device supplier that has the range of products, technology advancements, manufacturing and related core competencies.”
Kaufman’s views mirror those of Alan Shortall, CEO of fellow device maker Unilife, who told this publication last year combining a drug with a relevant exclusive delivery system “adds real value to actually compete against biosimilars and other biologics.” This has been demonstrated through a series of strategic agreements between his firm and reference biologic makers.
One of these firms was AbbVie which paid Unilife a $5m holding fee for the rights to enter into an exclusive development and supply deal for a delivery system for use with an undisclosed treatment of an autoimmune disease.
AbbVie manufactures the blockbuster monoclonal antibody Humira (adalimumab), and while the Big Pharma firm has stated it is confident a series of complex patents will hold off biosimilar competition in the US until at least 2022, it is already seeing competition from copycats in other markets.