In an ideal world, patients with chronic conditions could take a single pill once a year or undergo a one-time noninvasive
treatment that is administered without the need for a hospital or doctor visit. Unfortunately, treatment regimens for many
of today's most prevalent chronic conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases, require multiple, repeated
doses of drug at frequent and regular intervals.
Opportunities for improvement
There are opportunities, however, to improve the patient experience using formulation and delivery device technologies. Treatment
regimens can be optimized, for example, by: formulating drugs to higher concentrations to reduce dosing frequency; using higher-volume
delivery systems to deliver a larger volume and reduce dosing frequency; and using higher-volume systems.
MARIA TOUTOUDAKI/GETTY IMAGES
To give an example, monoclonal antibody (mAb) drug products have been approved for human therapeutic use for more than 20
years and affect a diverse range of therapeutics targets, including indications for prophylaxis of organ rejection following
transplant, cancer, and various autoimmune diseases (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, and
psoriasis). Most of these approved mAb products are intended for use in an acute care setting and must be administered through
intravenous (IV) infusion. These accommodations are necessary because of the need for weight-based dosing of some products
due to the potential for toxicity at higher doses; the potential for anaphylaxis or other adverse reaction; and the need for
concurrent administration of other drugs intravenously, as with certain chemotherapeutic regimens.
There are, however, approved products intended for self-injection by patients, usually for autoimmune diseases like those
previously mentioned. These include several TNF-α antibody products such as Johnson & Johnson's Simponi and Abbott Laboratories'
Humira. These injections are typically designed for delivery into the subcutaneous space. Attributes of these products have
allowed for self-administration, including a relatively low dose (< 100 mg) for efficacy and a reduced risk of life-threatening
adverse reaction. Both Simponi and Humira are packaged in 1-mL in length prefilled syringes and dosed on a weekly, semi-monthly,
or monthly basis, depending on the patient's particular indication.
In the case of most TNF-α therapies, the therapeutic target and properties of the antibodies used have allowed for relatively
easy formulation and manufacturing because the final product viscosity is low (less than five centipoise) and because the
product can be delivered through commonly available and well-characterized prefillable syringe systems. However, as pharmaceutical
companies develop and test antibodies for new therapeutic products, often in the search for better efficacy and reduced side
effects, challenges can arise. In cases where the dose required for efficacy is significantly higher than currently approved
self-injected products, for example, one must choose between more frequent subcutaneous injections and clinically administered