Pharmapack Report 2021—an industry report released ahead of Pharmapack Europe in Paris, October 13 and 14—features an in-depth look at the industry conducted by Team Consulting and Cambridge Design Partnership. According to organizers, the report includes a positive appraisal of the pharmaceutical drug delivery device market for next year, and after.
In the short term, the report offers, COVID-19 vaccines are likely to continue sustaining significant demand for syringes and needles. Moving forward, though, novel device innovation is expected to be centered on patient experience and connectivity, and exploration of how that can improve democratization of data and improve adherence.
One crucial challenge pinpointed by Pharmapack experts in the report is “how will developers adapt to both changing data custodianship regulation,” as well as how the trend interplays with the global interest in increasing the sustainability of production—a notable concern around ‘smart’ packaging and connected devices, which frequently incorporate virgin materials, single-use plastics, and involve a higher level of complexity in lifecycle CO2 impact and recycling.
Peter Matthewson, head of electronic engineering with Team Consulting, said environmental concerns about waste could lead to pushback from consumers, or “reputational damage” to companies perceived as less than environmentally responsible.
“Added connectivity also has a significant impact on carbon output during the development phase, as well as at end of life, meaning developers will need to carefully weigh up the benefits against the environmental costs,” Matthewson pointed out. “A case could be made that adding connectivity could go some way to offset environmental costs, as it could potentially improve patient adherence and lead to less costly hospital interventions as a result of patients not taking their therapy as prescribed; however, there is not enough data to accurately understand this impact at this time.”
How consumers experience and perceive the use of devices, incentives for adoption, and packaging are expected to be a central tenet in offsetting the impacts of new devices while innovation catches up with sustainability concerns, the report posits. Uri Baruch, head of drug delivery at Cambridge Design Partnership, predicts that pharma companies and device developers will increasingly look directly at successful consumer brands for lessons in how to improve adoption, suggesting smart packaging with integrated digital experience could provide a solution.
“A patient who has a question while unpacking their drug could scan the box with their phone to access frequently asked questions, an interactive user guide, even augmented reality training,” Baruch suggested. “In addition, the experience could be hyper-personalized via digital; for instance, a patient could find suggestions for the best time of the week to take their drug, based on data from other patients with similar lifestyles.”
The drug side effects themselves, respondents suggest, should also be evaluated in terms of device design, as a drug that has unpleasant side effects is far more likely to see patients slipping in terms of adherence as they often feel worse after taking the therapy. A senior medical innovation and research consultant with Cambridge Design Partnership suggested that “while adherence issues aren’t usually to do with the device, an injection journey that carefully considers user experience can go a long way to reducing the friction and can even give a less effective molecule the leading edge.”
From a data ownership and usage perspective, Matthewson suggested patients should be convinced of the benefits of using connected devices and sharing their data before we can expect wider adoption. He added, “Consumers themselves are also a lot more aware of the choices they are making around sharing their data, meaning device developers will need to work hard to convince their users to engage through their design and marketing.”
While the last 18 months have focused on dealing with challenges created by the pandemic, the report suggests, new drug delivery could potentially see significant progress over the next few years, especially regarding treatments that improve the patient’s experience (such as oral delivery of and ocular delivery in oncology).
Brennan Miles, managing consultant for drug delivery at Team Consulting, commented, “Ocular delivery is an area in which we could see more innovation in the near future, focusing on drug delivery across the blood-brain barrier to improve how quickly it gets into the system. Such an approach would be particularly helpful in chemotherapy, for example, as when these drugs are delivered orally or via injection, they can be harmful as they affect more than just the targeted area.”
Miles added that direct intra-tumoral delivery would be a “brilliant breakthrough” in the area of cancer treatment but faces a number of hurdles before realization.
Sherma Ellis-Daal, brand manager for Pharmapack Europe, said overall, experts contributing to the Pharmapack report expect a significant level of prosperity and innovation for drug delivery devices over the next few years.
“We are really excited to help foster this creative environment with both our online sessions on trends, but also, the in-person innovation hub; most importantly, of course, growth and innovation is sustained by partnerships and collaborations and that’s why we are so excited to welcome back the pharma packaging and drug delivery device community,” she said. “I encourage attending executives and those using our virtual platform to make full use of this vital opportunity to learn, meet, and network.”
The full Pharmapack 2021 Report and Innovation Index are available for download here. For more information on the Pharmapack event, visit www.pharmapackeurope.com.