A preview of Pharmapack Europe 2022: the future of medical devices
Before his Learning Lab session at Pharmapack Europe 2022, Who go explore the latest trends in connected devices, digital health and digital therapy, Marcus Bates, Vice President, Global Business Development, Aptar Digital Health, talk to health care packaging about the many advantages and development challenges in the field of therapy and digital devices.
health care packaging: We have heard a lot about connected objects in recent years. Has the industry made great strides in the past year? And what do you see going forward for next year (because potentially health care’s focus on the pandemic is fading)?
Marcus Bates: Connected devices have been around in the respiratory disease space for more than 10 years, but they only had simple adherence tracking capabilities, such as timestamping. The current view is that you need a lot more than that, so we’re seeing the evolution of more sophisticated connected devices that can do a lot more. Here are some examples: 1) the Teva Digihaler, which was launched a short time ago, and 2) just a few weeks ago, Aptar Pharma announced our hero tracker® Sense. the hero tracker® Sense sits on top of a metered dose inhaler (MDI) and not only gives timestamps, but can also be used more as a patient education tool. More sophisticated devices like these can help inform the patient whether or not they have taken their medication in a more compliant way, defined by how they would be advised by a nurse/specialist. The new devices can also capture respiratory flow and other features.
Thus, significant technological advances exist, but we have yet to see mass adoption, particularly in connected respiratory add-ons or auto-injectors.
That being said, I think one of the results of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a heavy reliance on remote communications with physicians, and that continues to happen even now as we struggle to live with COVID .
The pandemic has been a challenge when it comes to clinical trials in terms of patients going to hospitals and continuing to attend. Fortunately, we are now able to use connected devices and smart tools to support decentralized clinical trials, meaning patients don’t have to travel to a clinic. So, from a clinical trial perspective, we are increasingly starting to look to the use of smart devices.
HPC: Could you give us an overview of the interoperability of connected objects? There seem to be a lot of different platforms, and patient preferences and usage are changing all the time. How can we, as a global industry, try to bring all of this together?
MB: You are right. I recently read somewhere that there are around 318,000 health apps. When we talk about interoperability, we have to look at the needs of different stakeholders. For me, the key question is how do you make this work for both the patient and the healthcare provider? Can we guarantee that the patient benefits from a common user experience, regardless of comorbidity? For example, if a patient has diabetes, can he get all the information about his other related illnesses in one place, which is also accessible by the doctor/health care provider? Additionally, the data will need to be in an easy-to-read format, and be complete and repeatable with a standardized process. Ultimately, I believe that digital health should be driven by the patient’s needs, journey, and pain points, and if directed from that perspective, it will truly succeed.
HPC: Could you give us an overview of the device industry right now and where add-ons fit in?
MB: At the moment, there is some debate about when to use add-ons versus built-in devices. There are many things to consider, such as cost and durability. Do we really want to throw away batteries, circuit boards, etc., one of the risks of embedded devices? When you integrate something, it becomes part of the primary packaging, the primary container of the drug, and therefore there is a regulatory impact that could require clinical trials. On the other hand, with add-ons, like a metered dose inhaler (MDI) for example, where we add something on top of the MDI, like in the case of the device from Propeller Health or the Aptar Pharma HeroTracker® Meaning-the regulatory impact is much lower. You can pretty much confirm with lab tests that there is no impact on drug deposition. In the longer term, and certainly in the immediate future, I can see that add-ons will potentially have a faster and easier route to market. While it might seem like add-on devices might be the holy grail, so to speak, and sustainability benefits are driving their development, there may be smarter, more sustainable and cost-effective ways to have integrated devices in the future.
HPC: Do you think generational change will play a role in adoption i.e. millennials who are starting to turn 40 and may be much more willing to embrace personal data management and connectivity in treatments?
MB: The pandemic has caused even the elderly population to engage in remote communication. The questions that millennials will return to will likely relate to data ownership and trust. We all want to know more about our well-being through health apps and as a result, we are receiving more and more data. Additionally, we all want to manage our health in a more personal way, so we feel more empowered, and this will continue to increase in the years to come. However, users need to be certain and confident that their data is in a trustworthy place. I would say that older people (retirement age, especially in the US) are more likely to use apps and trust the processing of their personal health data, whereas an individual aged 20 to A 30-year-old might have several questions about data security and usage. There is therefore a real need to reassure on the ownership of the data.
HPC: In the medium term, what are the most significant impacts of digital health and digital therapies, and how quickly will they occur? Similarly, what programs or ideas are pioneering in this area? (For example, with lifestyle diseases, are we likely to have digital therapeutics as a first response?)
MB: We have more and more national bodies looking to enable companies to bring digital products into the commercial space to create real-world evidence. Germany has implemented DiGA, which helps support innovations, such as software products and applications for medical devices, as well as hardware and applications, to simplify the process to market. We’re seeing the same thing happening in a few other countries in Europe, and we’re seeing more and more refunds in the United States. Additionally, in the United States, a number of pilot projects are underway in different therapeutic areas, examining the value and benefits of digital technologies. .
Pharmapack Europe is the largest drug delivery and packaging event in Europe and hosts over 300 exhibitors from 75 countries. Taking place this year on May 18 and 19 in Paris, the event offers an international meetings program (business matching), an international meetings program, a full 2-day conference, Learning Lab presentations and eponymous prizes, as well as spaces for new innovations in the Start-up Hub, an Innovation Gallery and tours. In total, the event will host some 5,000 attendees and feature more than 50 dedicated content sessions.