Haughton Design attended two key drug delivery conferences last week: Partnership Opportunities in Drug Delivery (PODD) located in Boston, USA, and PDA’s Universe of Prefilled Syringes and Injection Devices, located in Gothenburg Sweden.

Will Morris – Senior Design Engineer & Sustainability Champion and Phil Sampey – Senior Design Engineer & Manufacturing Champion cover key learning and trends from both events.


The “Universe of Pre-Filled Syringes & Injection Devices” 20th anniversary conference was the perfect way of staying up to date with the latest industry trends, technological advancements, and regulatory changes in the fast-paced world of pharmaceuticals. Phil had the privilege of attending the conference in the picturesque city of Gothenburg, Sweden. The choice of Gothenburg as the host city for the 2023 PDA conference was inspired. Known for its charming canals, historic architecture, and vibrant culture, this Swedish city offered the perfect backdrop for this global gathering of pharmaceutical professionals. It was a fantastic platform for delegates from across the world to convene to share knowledge, network, and discuss the latest advancements in the field.

The conference began with an opening plenary, moderated by Theresa E. Bankston (BD). Keynote speakers from the pharmaceutical industry and regulatory bodies shared their insights on the current state of drug and device development, as they discussed the importance of innovation, sustainability and human factors engineering. This session also reflected on the drivers and enablers for this evolution, challenges faced, the impact achieved, and expectations for the future. The audience heard highlights about market and healthcare ecosystem dynamics, the role of future and smart devices, how to incorporate patient insights, shared lessons learned and the abundance of opportunities for the future.

PDA’s “Poster Walks” provided attendees with the opportunity to discover a wealth of knowledge and expertise on relevant subject matters. Around 40 posters were on display showing either case-studies, the breakdown of specialist services, or technological insights into the ever-changing world of injection devices. The first of the guided poster walks was kicked off, starting with a detailed look at sealing performance of Luer lock connectivity, hosted by Julien Singer (BD). One of the key questions in this application is about the safety guarantee and dose accuracy, and how crucial it is to use Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and Multiscale Contact Mechanics (MCM) to analyse sealing performance.

The other notable poster talks were “Demonstrating the utility and flexibility of electro-mechanical drives for auto injectors” by Bjarne Sørensen for Phillips-Medisize. “Digital pressure-controlled container closure integrity testing” by Christian Proff for Roche, and “Novel automatic pen injector developments from patients needs to early concept generation” by Pascal Dugand & Radoslaw Romancsuk from Nemera.

PDA 2023 Poster Talks

As well as the large auditorium talks and the poster walks, there were blocks of “Tech Talks” in the main exhibition hall, hosted by various experts in the pharmaceutical industry. These 10-minute, bite-sized bursts of knowledge were Phil’s favourite of the educational and informative sessions from the conference. These talks covered a huge spectrum of hot topics and innovative device breakthroughs from within the industry, such as “Thinking big when designing sustainable devices”, “Connected autoinjectors: Usability & joint innovation” by Chelsea Williams at SHL Medical. “ETFE Coated solutions protect sensitive drugs from E&L” by Sebastien Cordier from Aptar Pharma. “Pre-Filled syringe consideration for VHP sterilisation” by Juha P. Mattila, and finally one of the more eye opening talks “Unique opportunities and challenges in the growing >10mL subcutaneous infusion space” by Brina Case & Linda Tharby. The Tech Talks provided a unique opportunity to gain practical skills and insights, ensuring attendees left the conference with actionable knowledge that can be utilised in developing the next generation of devices.

The key take aways and headline themes at this year’s PDA conference were:

PDA 2023 conference talks

  • Sustainability: Environmental considerations are still a high-ranking major priority that runs through all aspects of device development. From the market leading pharma giants to the cardboard carton suppliers. Everyone is focusing on sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint in any way possible.
  • Regulatory Insights: Staying up to date with the latest regulatory guidelines is crucial, as the industry continues to evolve and adapt to new requirements.
  • Quality by Design: Implementing QbD principles can ensure that pharmaceutical products consistently meet quality standards, ultimately benefiting patients.
  • Human Factors Engineering: HFE was a huge topic that was referenced in some way in almost all of the Tech Talks and auditorium conferences. The importance of incorporating a patient-centric approach is essential to improve the overall quality of healthcare and the devices we bring to market.

Attending the 2023 PDA conference in Gothenburg was an eye-opening experience. It reinforced the idea that the pharmaceutical industry is continuously evolving and staying informed. We left the conference with a renewed sense of purpose, armed with the knowledge and insights that will undoubtedly impact our work in the field. If you’re involved in medical device development in any way, make sure to mark your calendar for future PDA conferences, they’re not to be missed!


PODD was kicked off by Mark Schiebler (Roche) providing an overview on the drug delivery landscape 2023, with interesting insights into research and new drug formulations entering the market such as Lecanemab by Eisai & Biogen and Donanemab by Eli Lilly.

An interesting panel discussion followed by Dr Robert Langer (MIT) and Stephane Bancel (Moderna) discussing the early, fast paced strategical decisions and monumental efforts during the COVID pandemic.

Ann Daugherty (Genentech) and Marianne Ølholme (Novo Nordisk) held an industry motivating discussion regarding social and environmental impact and how pharma and device R&D teams can balance speed and investment into this aspect. Chiesi, Eli Lilly and Astra Zeneca then discussed how partnership in this sector is critically important to drug discovery and enabling accessibility to new drug delivery technologies.

PODD had a series of interesting track talks ranging from Injectable, Formulations & Polymers, Oral, Mucosal, Nasal & Other Non-Injectable Technologies, Connected Devices Wearables and Other Novel Devices, and finally Cell & Gene Delivery. While speakers only had 15 minutes for their talks, they provided a great technical overview or shared their story of device development. Some of the notable talks referenced the importance of human centred design philosophies, robust engineering processes, digital design and commercial considerations.

PODD and PDA 2023 conference literature

As Will is Haughton Designs Sustainability Champion, it was great to listen to the sustainability focused talks, and to learn more about new and current sustainability focused initiatives that manufacturers have implemented. It was also possible to empathise with industry leaders regarding the difficulties they’re facing around the complexity of making the medical sector sustainable. However, PODD is all about partnership, and it was refreshing to witness this first hand as large pharma, medical device CDMOs, suppliers and other consultancies from all over the world were sharing their sustainability challenges and solutions to a global issue.

It was great to see other design consultancies such as CDP, DCA, KD, Shore, Team, & TTP and many others at the conference. It certainly shows that the United Kingdom has an enormous pool of talent regarding drug delivery device development.

Both conferences provided valuable insight into where the drug delivery industry is heading, and key focus points for designers and engineers. We’re looking forward to attending further conferences and industry events in the coming months, including Pharmapack in January 2024 where you will find HD at stand H55.

Phil Sampey 26 October 2023


Get in Touch with Phil Sampey

Senior Design Development Engineer

Phil graduated from Staffordshire University with a degree in Automotive Technology. Since joining HD, Phil has primarily been working on a number of medical device projects, supported by his wide range of experience from prototype manufacturing, plastic injection moulding and CNC machined parts, to designing bespoke gearbox systems for various industries. Phil also assists with the management of our ISO 13485 & ISO 9001 QMS and network of approved manufacturing suppliers.

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