As a medical device development consultancy, we’re constantly working in the future. The devices that we’re working on often have 3-5 year development timeframes (that’s without the formulation and R&D timeframes included!).

As we’re working for and in constant communication with pharmaceutical clients, we get a glimpse of their vision for the future as well as their objectives to help people live healthier lives through use of novel drugs and drug delivery systems. Senior Design Development Engineer, Will, provides insight into some of the expected trends for drug delivery devices, and why we should be excited for what’s to come in 2023 and beyond.

Drug & Device Development:

Drug development is a challenging and long-term process. However, in-silico testing can help speed up the development process. In-Silico testing virtually models the potential response to how an organism would react to a chemical stressor. Not only would the simulated studies increase knowledge and understanding of pharmaceuticals, but it also offers alternatives to animal testing and reduced testing timelines.

The fallout of the pandemic; the automotive industry switching from cars with computers to computers with wheels, and the political trade disputes throughout the world has been a nightmare for resourcing and procurement teams by putting strain on supply chains. In some cases, companies are having to redesign entire product ranges due to shortages of microprocessors or grades of polymer being unavailable (or incredibly expensive!). This has been a wake-up call to engineering teams all over the world forcing them to think about supply chain robustness, evaluating multi-supplier redundancy and placing less reliance on hyper performing engineering plastics.

Drug Delivery:

High volume and high viscosity performance of injection systems are becoming increasingly important due to biologics and their higher molecular weights. This increased viscosity requires drug delivery systems to be capable of much higher pressures. Drug encapsulation is a strategy pharma companies are employing whereby they can tailor the timed release of a drug before it reaches the targeted site, via hydrogel matrices or polymeric nanostructures. Other strategies on the device are novel drive mechanisms such as electromechanical, chemical, compressed gas, high spring force, etc. Some of these technologies improve the aesthetics, making a device more compact and discrete however, can put incredibly high loads on device structures, or introduce new mechanical risks.

Aesthetics:

Industrial design in medical device development is increasingly important, especially as medical devices are more readily available and used more frequently than ever. There are two trends and polar opposite design strategies that we can employ with aesthetics. The first is designing a medical device to be as small and discrete as possible, this is sometimes a challenging endeavour given the complexity of the device’s mechanics, however, can pay dividends in reducing material use and increasing shipping loads. The second option is to be loud and proud with your design. This strategy can introduce new opportunities to companies with the likes of accessorisation of medical devices, can promote the awareness of a particular medical requirement and may result in users being more confident and open about their medical devices. The market desire for customisable devices is evident for example, from the growing Etsy marketplace for inhaler covers.

Sustainability:

The Sustainable Development Goals set out by the UN are ambitious yet positively focused targets. They have forced companies to rethink their medical device development strategies and have in a lot of circumstances, improved their devices. Trends that we’ve identified relating to these SDG’s are clever use of mono material devices where possible, reduced amount of material being used, increased external company partnerships for upstream/downstream innovation, better understanding of waste management, the potential for modularity between reusable and disposable elements, providing users and medical professionals with easy to digest environmental impact documents to assist with procurement and informed user decision making regarding sustainable attributes. Find out more about Haughton Design’s sustainability service here.

Packaging:

There is an interesting emerging trend regarding packaging being multifunctional and also aesthetically pleasing. Questions designers are asking themselves include, how might we use the packaging as a tool for improved drug delivery and, how might we reuse the packaging?

From the complete development of  autoinjectors to optimising specific inhalation device mechanisms, here at Haughton Design, we have worked on a wide variety of drug delivery device projects for pharmaceutical companies globally. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or would like to discuss a new medical device development project.

William Morris - Senior Design Development Engineer & Business Development Manager at Haughton Design Will Morris 4 October 2022

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Get in Touch with Will Morris

Senior Design Development Engineer & Business Development Manager

Will graduated from the University of Wolverhampton with a degree in Product Design. Prior to Haughton Design, Will worked for Renishaw, where he led the industrial design for the current and next generation metal Additive Manufacturing machines. Will has a strong interest in Design for Sustainability, and the Circular Economy, looking to reduce companies’ environmental impact and often teaches about design engineering at local STEM events. Outside of work, Will enjoys Formula 1, rugby and travelling with friends.

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