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The Merging of Medical Device and Pharmaceutical Industries

7/27/17     As product technology advances and the general demand for healthcare expands, the industry line between medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies are being blurred as innovative products continue to emerge. Manufacturers are exploring new technologies that adhere to better patient compliance, improve product safety and utilize unique drug delivery methods.

These new technologies include:
–  Small adhesive patches that are encapsulated and swallowed. Once in the body they dissolve and stick to the wall of the intestine to deliver time released    medication
– Implantable devices that automatically run tests and dose medications
– Transdermal patches that are embedded with micro sized needles that deliver medication over a period of time

As technology advances and healthcare treatments become more complex, the pharmaceutical and medical device industries will continue to merge their technologies and expertise to deliver patient solutions that combine both pharmaceuticals and medical devices into one simple and convenient product. Currently about half of all manufacturers in both industries have turned to contract services to meet demand as products become more intertwined.

As this newly meshed relationship forms there are many concerns and factors that both industries need to keep in mind, with the top two being:
1. Regulations: Government regulation requires manufacturers to adapt their processes to meet changing production demands of speed, flexibility, and safety while continuing to comply with regulations. Complying with these regulations usually requires a large investment in machinery and software systems, with two out of three companies reporting that they will be spending more on capital equipment in the next two years. Smaller manufacturers are having a hard time with this large expenditure burden, so they are turning to OEMs to help with regulation compliance strategies by adapting their machines to meet data acquisition and storage requirements for marking and tracking products which includes coding and vision inspection systems.
2. High Demand: In addition to complying with numerous regulations, pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers also face the challenge of increasing consumer demand. This demand is fueled by increased insurance coverage rates and improved healthcare availability. To meet this demand, manufacturers have to produce products at a faster rate, while adhering to stringent regulations. As a result, many manufacturers have turned to smaller batch runs with greater product diversity and more frequent changeovers, requiring machines that are both fast and versatile. OEMs can be a valuable partner in adjusting to process changes by providing manufacturers with innovative, flexible machine builds that are designed to integrate seamlessly into production lines and software systems.

Manufacturers Need a Partner – As pharmaceutical and medical device companies strive to keep up with market demand, they will search for trusted partners to help them comply with the maze of complex regulations. Manufacturers will also need help with the process of implementing new technology, especially automation and data management solutions, which will play a crucial role in a manufacturer’s ability to operate efficiently in a growing market. OEMs and technology suppliers are perfectly situated to offer their experience and expertise to manufacturers as an invaluable tool in resolving future challenges; expertise in automation, integration services, and regulation compliance are key. OEMs and technology suppliers can form stronger relationships by working collaboratively to address a manufacturer’s unique needs on an individual level, in order to achieve a mutually beneficial partnership.

Removing the “patient factor” from glaucoma treatment

7/20/17     Over 3 million Americans suffer with glaucoma and 75% of them administer their own drug treatment incorrectly. These “patient factors” include not being able to see clearly enough to pick up the right medication to use, the inability to successfully put droplets into the eye, and simple forgetfulness.
Sustained delivery devices that take glaucoma therapy out of patients’ hands may be the answer to the many issues related to adherence, with significant benefits for patients and physicians. These technologies are broken into 3 general categories: injectable sustained-release formulations, drug-eluting rings and contact lenses, and punctal plug reservoirs.

glaucoma ring
Drug-eluting rings are currently in clinical trial right now. They are made of a silicone polymer and can house most any drug combination. The ring is put under the eye lid and slowly excretes drug delivery for up to 6 months. This alleviates the patient having to remember to take their medicine. An issue researchers are trying to overcome with rings is they can fall out without the patient being aware of it happening, making it virtually unknown how much of the drug the patient actually received. Once this hurdle is overcome the next obstacle is to figure out the timing of introducing this treatment to a patient. Timing can be a critical factor in the successful treatment of glaucoma. Once the clinical trials are completed and the logistics figured out, drug-eluting rings will most likely play a significant role in glaucoma treatment.

Micro Molder vs. Conventional Molder

7 reasons you need a Micro Molder vs. Conventional Molder

  1. Shot size is less than 30% of barrel capacity
  2. Your tooling source thinks it’s doable but “hasn’t made a mold quite that small before”
  3. Optimized runner systems in comparison to longer runner systems
  4. Your molding source doesn’t have metrology equipment with high resolution
  5. Highly complex detail is achievable with a micro molder
  6. Low tolerance tooling and molding processes
  7. Minimal material waste = money savings

Wearable Micro Component Health Sensors

7/6/17     Wearable sensors combine computers with our bodies. Companies like Google and Apple are focusing on self-health monitoring. We have already been introduced to things like Fitbit which offer wearable fitness trackers that record our footsteps and heart rate. In the near future these health sensors will evolve into items more complex yet smaller in size. The thought of wearing a bulky bracelet to monitor your heart rate will be replaced with adhesive sensors similar to a sticker. They can be worn on the skin and the material makes them bendable and stretchable, like this prototype from MC10 which senses heart rate and other vital signs.

micro component sensor

These breathable, bendable, stretchable devices are, in itself, a hurdle to overcome when designing them. They need to be able to do all of the bending and stretching while keeping all of the micro components inside that make them work from breaking or malfunctioning. Imagine a tiny battery or sensitive sensor being able to move with our skin and nothing inside the component breaks. This is where state of the art technology and novel micro-component expertise come in. Without them, these new technologies wouldn’t exist.

Besides the numerous health benefits and ease of use, wearable health sensors allow patient’s health to be tracked over time, efficiently and without frequent, costly follow up visits to the doctor. This could have a positive impact on healthcare costs. The future of wearable health sensors could help us manage chronic illnesses and chronic pain; they could be an early detection warning of an on-coming illness or episode like a seizure; and they could send daily accurate information to our doctors informing them of things we may not even realize is going on within our bodies.