In Demand: Prefilled Syringes

Andrea Charles

The prefilled syringes sector has witnessed healthy growth in recent years and demand is expected to rise. This is due to the increased number of injectable biological drugs in the pipeline and healthcare professionals and patients demanding safer more convenient drugs, devices and delivery systems.

According to a recent iRAP report, PH-1 Nano-Enabled Packaging for the Pharmaceutical Industry—A Global Technology, Industry and Market Analysis: “Global demand for prefillable inhalers and prefilled syringes will generate the fastest growth opportunities among all pharmaceutical packaging products, based on performance advantages in drug delivery and the introduction of new bioengineered medicines.”

Advantages of prefilled syringes

A prefilled syringe is a single–dose packet of a parenteral drug attached to a needle by the manufacturer, although traditionally used for vaccines and blood stimulants, they are now used in a wide range of therapeutic areas. The main advantage when compared to single glass vials is their ease of use. The user does not need to withdraw the required amount of vial from a vial before using the syringe. By removing this step, prefilled syringes provide a safer more convenient way for health professionals and patients to administer injectable drugs. Prefilled syringes reduce human error and administer drugs with a higher degree of accuracy because of this their popularity in the medical community continues to rise.

It is not surprising that many pharmaceutical companies are adopting prefilled syringes as their preferred way to deliver injectable drugs. In an article for OndrugDelivery entitled Unilife – Developing Prefilled Products of Choice, Stephen Allen, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Unilife said: “More than 20 pharmaceutical manufacturers are using prefilled syringes as a preferred delivery device for over 50 injectable drugs and vaccines that have a total combined annual sales of approximately US$ 50 billion.”

Increased demand to throw away 

Originally made of metal and glass, we are now seeing developments in disposable prefilled syringes. In recent years, there has been a shift from glass to plastic syringes, due to advances in materials construction and manufacturing processes.

Innovation in prefilled syringes and injection devices has also been spurred on by a demand for disposable medical supplies on a global scale. Recent outbreaks of the H1N1 virus and a rise in nosocomial infections have pushed Infection prevention and vaccine administration safety up the agenda. The Freedonia Group predicts in the Disposable Medical Supplies report,thatUS demand for disposable medical supplies will increase 4.1 per cent annually to more than $79 billion in 2013.

"Demand will also gain upward momentum as hospitals, outpatient facilities and other health care establishments adopt stricter safeguards to meet infection prevention standards,” said the report.

Injectable biotherapeutics on the rise

The prefilled syringes sector is also set to grow as the use of biologics increases and the number of injectable biotherapeutics coming onto the market is rising. The demand for prefilled syringes and other injection devices is high and many contract manufacturers are taking advantage of this opportunity. Earlier this year AMRI acquired Hyaluron for $27m (€22m) to enter the prefilled syringe contract manufacturer sector and expand the customer base for its existing operations.

Thomas D’Ambra, CEO of AMRI said in a press release: “We believe that the unique capabilities of both organisations will quickly assimilate into a larger, fully integrated GMP manufacturing provider of choice for companies desiring to capitalise on seamless technology transfer.

The benefits of this integration include “increased efficiency and cost benefits”, said D’Ambra.

"Demand for syringes in the U.S. has grown steadily in recent years and will continue with the increased incidence and detection of chronic diseases," said in a press release Gary Waller, director North American Sales & Marketing for Schott Pharmaceutical Packaging”.

According to the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IOPP), pre-filled syringes represented 6.5 per cent of global pharmaceutical products distribution in 2008. With market predictions that the global demand for prefilled syringes will grow at a rate of 8-10 per cent annually for the next several years. This technology will definitely be on radar of contract manufacturers in the future.