Medications play a crucial role in managing various health conditions and improving patient outcomes. From chronic diseases to acute conditions, medications are often prescribed by healthcare professionals to deliver the necessary treatment. The way medications are administered can vary on the type of drug, the route of administration, and the patient’s specific needs. They are commonly taken by swallowing, by inhalation, by absorption through the skin or by injection. However, the medical device market is diverse and constantly expanding.

In this blog, Design Engineer, Elena explores the different types of devices used to administer medications to patients: 

Inhalers:

As molecule and drug design has advanced, inhaled drug delivery devices have become the backbone of lung treatment. Commonly used for respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), these devices deliver medications directly to the lungs through inhalation, allowing for rapid absorption and localized action. They can be summarised into three main categories –, metered-dose inhalers (MDIs), dry powder inhalers (DPIs), and soft mist inhalers (SMIs).  

 

Autoinjectors:

Initially designed for military use, autoinjectors are well known now for helping stop an anaphylactic reaction becoming life threatening by administering epinephrine. They are also used to inject medicines that treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. They allow patients to self-administer medications subcutaneously or intramuscularly. These devices typically consist of a pre-filled syringe and a spring-loaded mechanism that automatically injects the medication when triggered.

different types of inhaler

Insulin Pens:

Insulin pens are used for subcutaneous administration of insulin, a hormone used to manage diabetes. These devices typically come in two types: reusable pens with replaceable cartridges and disposable pens that come pre-filled with insulin and are disposed of fully after one use. Insulin pens offer a convenient and discreet way for patients to administer their insulin doses, with options for different insulin types, dosages, and pen needle sizes. They consist of a cartridge, a dial to measure the dosage and a disposable needle. 

Devices used for diabetes care including blood glucose meters, prefilled syringes and autoinjectors

Wearable Devices:

Wearable devices and Combined Wearable & Implantable Devices are used to treat patients with long term and repeated medical conditions such as diabetes, ocular disorders, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Wearable devices self-administer drugs (sometimes in a non-intrusive way). These include wearable injectors, micro-needle skin patches, wound healing patches, pharmaceutical jewellery, and drug-eluting contact lenses

Infusion Pumps:

Infusion pumps are used for delivering medications intravenously or through other routes such as intrathecal or epidural. These devices use a pump mechanism to deliver a controlled and continuous infusion of medication, allowing for precise dosing and administration. Infusion pumps are commonly used in hospitals and other healthcare settings for a wide range of medications, including chemotherapy, antibiotics, pain management, insulin and other hormones. They can be categorised into stationary (pumps that are placed beside the patient’s bed) and ambulatory (a pump that is small and portable). 

Patches:

Transdermal patches are used for delivering medications through the skin. These patches typically contain a reservoir of medication that slowly releases into the bloodstream over time. Transdermal patches are commonly used for medications such as pain relievers, hormonal therapies, and nicotine replacement therapy. Patches usually consist of a backing, the drug, a membrane, an adhesive and a liner.  

Nasal Sprays:

Nasal sprays are used for delivering medications through the nasal passages. These devices typically deliver a fine mist or spray of medication, allowing for absorption through the nasal mucosa. Nasal sprays are commonly used for medications such as decongestants, corticosteroids for nasal allergies, and migraine medications.  

Injection Devices:

Injection devices, such as syringes and needles, are commonly used for delivering medications intramuscularly, intravenously, or subcutaneously. These devices require proper technique and training for safe and effective administration and are commonly used in healthcare settings for various medications, including vaccines, antibiotics, and other injectable medications.  

 

The medical device industry in Europe alone typically grows by 4.8% on average each year, with new types of, and variations of devices contributing to this growth significantly. Keeping up with this growth, HD offer expertise in many device categories, specialising in drug delivery, IVD’s, and healthcare products. 

 

 

Medical Device Design Development Engineer, Elena Slobodyuk Elena Slobodyuk 29 June 2023

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Get in Touch with Elena Slobodyuk

Elena graduated from Loughborough University in 2017 with a degree in Product Design and Technology. Since, she has worked as a Design Engineer working at a consultancy designing children’s car seats before working as a designer and product lead at a start-up where she oversaw product development from concept to manufacturing of prosthetic limbs, with a heavy emphasis on user-centred design and human factors in addition to involvement with business development activities to grow the company.

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