Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

The 4 Cent Inhaler

lg_conix_inhand.jpgLast month MIT Tech Review profiled a potentially cool new product for drug administration that is not only cheaper than existing technologies (syringes, etc.) but also appears to be more effective in drug delivery (at least 40% more effective) and can be used by community health workers with little training. Due to the clinical trial process, this inhaler maybe 3-4 years away from widespread use and is dependent on powdered drug formulations. However, the device maker, Cambridge Consultants, seems to be initially targeting the bird flu market, so this may be on the market sooner. Excerpts from the article below:

MIT Technology Review, December 2006
“When the World Health Organization (WHO) tallied up the total price tag for immunization programs over the next decade in the world’s 72 poorest countries, the surprise wasn’t the total–$35 billion–but that fully two-thirds of this sum would be spent not on the drugs but on the delivery systems and the staff overhead to administer them. Syringes are cheap, costing pennies apiece, but they require trained staff. Inhalers are easier and safer to administer–but far more expensive to buy…

Now comes a simple new piece of technology: a four-cent inhaler that administers drugs without the moving parts or aerosols used in traditional inhalers, which have as many as 20 moving parts and cost up to 40 cents apiece…

To make their inhaler cheaper, engineers at Cambridge Consultants, of Cambridge, England, and Boston, focused on its internal shape. When a user inhales, a kind of miniature tornado forms inside the device, lifting a powdered drug into the air. A user must simply unfold the inhaler, which pierces a foil pouch that holds dry powder, and breathe in. That means patients don’t need much staff help, and health-care workers can oversee more patients while avoiding the hazards of needle sticks.” Full Story.

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Written by Aman

January 13, 2007 at 11:23 am

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