Special delivery: New drug devices call for increased patient education, and pharmacists can play the role of messenger

October 23, 2006

Drug delivery systems are hot. As they expand into more and more therapeutic categories, they are altering the status quo of drug administration for an increasing number of patients. They are also fueling a need for patient education, a need that is perhaps unobtrusively shaping the face of pharmacy.

This past September brought the long-awaited launch of inhaled insulin (Exubera/Pfizer), offering an alternative to daily or multidaily injections for some individuals with diabetes.

Besides Exubera, analgesia became available without needles through the LidoSite Topical System, a topical anesthetic lidocaine/epinephrine patch launched this spring by B. Braun Medical, which utilizes a mild current to repel drug molecules from the patch into the skin. Another system, the fentanyl iontophoretic transdermal system (IONSYS, ALZA Corp.), received approval from the Food & Drug Administration this summer.

These new devices allow fewer steps in preparing an injection, can help some individuals overcome their fears of injections, and they also help individuals whose diseases compromise dexterity or cognition.

Then there's Kogenate FS with Bioset (Bayer) designed to simplify the reconstitution of antihemophilia factor (recombinant), formulated with sucrose for individuals with hemophilia. It also is likely to reduce accidental needlesticks.

On many fronts, manufacturers are continuing to devise innovative delivery device systems that simplify the use of their products-and probably add to their bottom line as well. Not surprisingly though, most of the current buzz in drug delivery devices is about insulin-Exubera in particular.

Patient education

Delivery devices such as these-and undoubtedly others currently in development-are changing the way drugs are administered. They are also bringing the need for patient education to the forefront.