June 07, 2009
Metered dose inhalers are one of the most widely prescribed devices for treating asthma and other chronic lung disorders. However the development of the inhaler has followed the same form since its inception. Research undertaken prior and during this project revealed that a large number of patients have great difficulty in correctly administering their dose of medication as
well as recording and monitoring their results. It was decided that during this project a new device would be conceived that would help to make using an inhaler easier for the people who were forced to use it every day. The project focussed on: the handling and operation of the inhaler, use in public and associated stigmatism, recording and monitoring of results.
Current MDI’s utilise a very simple mechanism whereby the inhaler is held in a pinch grip and actuated by the application of pressure to the top surface of the canister which releases the valve inside of the moulded mouthpiece. This lends itself to low manufacturing costs but tends to result in angling of the device toward the roof of the mouth rather than down the patient’s throat. Patients either tend to then hold the inhaler in the wrong position to compensate for the difficulties in actuating the device (which heightens this over rotation) or concentrate too much on actuating correctly and mist time their inhalations. All problems lead to a wasted dose of medication and the potential for no medication to be inhaled at all which can lead to potentially life threatening situations.
To combat this the inhaler that was developed utilised an ovoid shape so as to incorporate a power grip (the strongest grip of the hand encasing the whole inhaler) with two actuation buttons which could be depressed by increasing the strength of the grip to actuate the canister. The inhaler was also rotated through 90° so as to be away from the face during actuation as the nose can also cause a problem.
Many users of inhalers, especially younger users, identified the fact that they did not like to use their inhalers in public as they felt that there was a stigmatism associated with it. The users liked the idea of a discrete device which would make using their inhaler in public easier.
The easiest current devices to use are the automated MDI’s however their construction leads to them being significantly larger than that of standard and small canister MDI’s and so much more visible. The way that current standard MDI’s are held (in front of the face) causes attention to be drawn toward the user.
The concept inhaler instead moves the body of the inhaler below the mouth and its actuation process covers most of the device making for a more natural gesture and more discreet actuation which is hoped will remove of some of the visible signs of taking medication.
Many asthmatics are asked to keep a peak/flow diary to monitor their condition especially when different types of medication are being assessed. However most tend not to keep this diary as regularly as they should and sometimes lose the results. While some do not bother to record them at all. This makes diagnosis and analysis for the doctor difficult.
The concept would incorporate a peak/flow monitoring system which would remind the user to measure their peak/flow at set times and would record the results electronically. This information could then be sent to a monitoring device (wrist based) using wireless protocols for review by the patient. This device could also store information about the canister such as type of medication, age and amount remaining. All this information could then be synchronised with a PC and the software used to automatically return results to those dealing with the patient’s care. This could allow healthcare professionals to alert patients to any important changes in their condition much sooner than scheduled visits.