The search for improved routes of administration for therapeutic agents and the desire for noninvasive delivery methods for self-medication of chronic conditions have led to increased interest in pulmonary drug delivery systems. Recent developments, including ongoing research activity in powder formulations, advances in particle engineering, and novel device architectures are positioning dry powder inhalation as an attractive option for pharma and biotech product strategists in this age of direct-to-consumer marketing.
Inhalers for the treatment of upper respiratory ailments (URT) such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are arguably the most mission-critical drug delivery device class currently on the market. These combination products are relied upon by tens of millions of Americans and more than 300 million worldwide for the treatment of debilitating and life-threatening respiratory conditions. While accounting for nine out of every ten dollars spent on inhaled therapeutics, much of the recent activity for URT has focused on the rise of generics as patents expire and on COPD, a growing segment that continues represent significant unmet needs
Orally inhaled drug delivery is being transformed by recent developments in particle technology. Powder formulations predominantly used in commercial inhalers consist of coarse carrier particles blended with micronized drug particles. This approach can lead to significant variability in dose-to-dose drug administration. While improvements and enhancements in inhaler designs attempt to address these issues,
enabling technologies in the area of particle engineering are creating new opportunities for dry powder inhalation.
As aging population demographics and managed care initiatives drive growth in home health care and self-administration of drug therapies, inhaled medicine is increasingly being viewed as patient-friendly and cost-effective. Our analysis demonstrates that inhaled administration in general, and DPI in particular, are well positioned to take advantage of these trends and evolve into a significant factor in the future of pharmaceutical development and commercialization of therapeutic drugs.
While the market for inhaled drugs targeting upper respiratory diseases such as asthma and COPD is maturing technologically with most development activity now centering on expanded indications and combination drug inhalers, several participants in this sector are taking novel approaches that attempt to address underlying causes as opposed to treating disease symptoms. Many challenges remain, but as a group these candidates hold significant potential.
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