Injections could be thing of past

MARK NICHOLLS Patients could soon be getting rapid relief from an array of conditions with the development in Norfolk of a revolutionary device that could see the end of painful injections for many treatments.

MARK NICHOLLS

Patients could soon be getting rapid relief from an array of conditions with the development in Norfolk of a revolutionary device that could see the end of painful injections for many treatments.

The new method will see splinter-like fragments of drugs forced painlessly into the skin to seep into the bloodstream for long-lasting pain relief.

It overcomes the need for injections, while acting much faster than tablets and will help sufferers with severe needle phobia.

And while the cost has yet to be defined, it could be cheaper than needle-administered drugs and significantly safer by cutting down on the risk of needle stick injury and infection to patients and healthcare professionals.

The first patients to benefit are set to be migraine sufferers with the so-called needle-free solid dose injector set to be trialled in the near future on a drug used for rapid relief of the condition.

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Bespak, which has facilities in King's Lynn, has been called in to spearhead the development and manufacture of the innovative device that delivers drugs painlessly through a patient's skin without using needles.

The needle-free solid dose injector has been designed by Oxford-based Glide Pharma, which says the method of injecting the drug in a splinter-like form through the skin means it reacts faster than tablets but because it is released slowly into the blood stream is effective over a longer period of time.

The Glide actuator uses a spring mechanism to push solid drugs through into the underlying tissue where they dissolve and are released into the patient's bloodstream.

Bespak commercial manager Mike Bastin said: “The Glide technology will offer significant benefits to patients and is an innovative and practical alternative to conventional needle-based delivery systems.”

The Glide technology is reusable and has a pre-filled, disposable drug cassette attached. The device is set to go to clinical trials in 2007 and if it proves successful with the migraine drug sumatriptan, can be adapted to enable other drugs, vaccines and various pharmaceutical ingredients to be injected in a solid form.

Mr Bastin said that from tests performed so far a high proportion of patients have preferred using the device to having a needle.

He said that his company hoped to continue its partnership with Glide Pharma as the product is developed for other drug uses.

Dr Charles Potter, CEO at Glide Pharma, said: “We have been working closely with the team at Bespak on the commercialisation of our Glide actuator and drug cassette and we are extremely pleased with the progress that has been made.”

He said the device is easy to use and make it ideal for patients to administer at home and the drug cassette section can be safely thrown away with normal household waste.

Dr Potter said there were cost savings to be had and added: “It eliminates the need to make arrangements for needle disposal - a major issue as 15 billion needles are used worldwide every year - as well as benefiting patients with needle phobia and healthcare staff who suffer needle prick injuries.”

Bespak has also been involved in other needle-free drug delivery systems, notably inhaled drugs as a replacement for injections for people with diabetes.