Rethinking Drug Formulation: The Motivation Behind Embracing Subcutaneous Delivery

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Imogen Anastasiou
Mar 5, 2024
min read
Rethinking Drug Formulation: The Motivation Behind Embracing Subcutaneous Delivery

In recent years, a notable trend has emerged in the pharmaceutical landscape – the re-formulation of medications for subcutaneous delivery. Traditionally administered through intravenous or oral routes, many drugs are undergoing a transformation to offer a more patient-friendly and effective means of treatment. This shift raises the question: Why are people re-formulating for subcutaneous delivery?  

One reason lies inpatient tolerance. Intravenous and oral administration methods, while effective, can be invasive, burdensome, and uncomfortable for patients. Subcutaneous delivery provides a less intrusive alternative, making the overall treatment experience more tolerable for individuals. This transition is particularly significant for patients requiring long-term medication, as it offers a way to minimize disruptions to their daily lives. For the elderly, who may face challenges in adhering to complex medication regimens, subcutaneous drugs offer a convenient solution. Healthcare professionals or family members can administer these drugs in the comfort of the patient's home, reducing the risk of missed doses and promoting medication adherence.

The shift towards subcutaneous drug delivery is particularly evident in the field of oncology. Patients undergoing cancer treatment often face frequent and unwelcome trips to the hospital for intravenous infusions. Recognizing the impact on the mental well-being of these individuals, pharmaceutical companies are increasingly favoring subcutaneous approaches for new cancer medications. This allows patients to self-administer life-saving medicines from the comfort of their homes, minimizing the number of hospital visits and providing a sense of control over their treatment journey.

Another contributing factor to the surge in subcutaneous formulations is the demand for prolonged drug release. Certain medications require a sustained and controlled release to optimize therapeutic effects, a characteristic perfectly suited for subcutaneous delivery. One key category of drugs benefiting from subcutaneous delivery is long-acting injectables (LAIs). These formulations are designed to minimize the frequency of administration, aiming to disrupt a person's life as little as possible. Recent developments in the LAI field, including nanoparticle systems, in-situ forming gels, and solid implants, among other advancements, facilitate sustained release via their own chemical and physical mechanisms, further exploiting the benefits of subcutaneous approach.

Importantly, the shift to subcutaneous delivery doesn't only benefit patients; it also reduces costs and eases the burden on the healthcare system. Minimizing the need for frequent and lengthy hospital visits positively impacts healthcare infrastructure and lowers associated costs, making it a systemic advantage.

The re-formulation of drugs for subcutaneous delivery represents a transformative trend in the pharmaceutical industry. Patient tolerance, the need for prolonged drug release, and the desire to minimize disruptions to daily life are driving forces behind this shift. As advancements continue, the landscape of drug delivery methods is evolving to prioritize the well-being and convenience of patients. The subcutaneous route is not merely a technical innovation; it is a step towards a more patient-centric and accessible future in healthcare.

Pion has developed a subcutaneous injection site simulator to assist drug formulators in their efforts by allowing in vitro analysis of injectables via a biomimetic of the subcutaneous space. Contact us to learn more.

Subcutaneous Drug Delivery: A Route to Increased Safety, Patient Satisfaction, and Reduced Costs

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