Injections are among the most common healthcare procedures worldwide and come in a variety of forms, with self-injecting medication being one of the more frequently used methods. With their invasive nature, injections are not wholly safe: needlestick injuries (NSIs) arise from the injection process, occurring during the use, disassembly and disposal of needles. For healthcare workers, cross-contamination or the transmission of blood or bodily fluids from patients infected with HIV, or hepatitis B or C remains a concern. The risk of injury has increased along with rising market demand for treatments via injection. The US recognises the severity of this, and the EU enacted the Health and Safety (Sharps Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations in 2013.

Patients and workers must be protected against the risks of using and disposing of needles. According to the Premier Safety Institute, 40% of injuries occur during treatment, while another 40% happen before the needle’s disposal. These injuries are serious hazards for healthcare workers, who can avoid NSIs by using safety-engineered devices. As one of the preferred delivery methods, safety injection devices (SIDs) reduce the risk of NSIs by optimising user protection and drug administration. The CDC estimates that these devices could prevent 60-80% of sharps injuries in hospitals. By 2020, the market for prefilled safety devices is set to rise from $250 billion to $797 billion.

Patient safety is at the heart of effective treatment delivery for pharma companies and healthcare providers. In recent years, regulations have focused on this and SIDs, which improve the patient’s experience, treatment popularity and economic benefits by enabling patients to treat themselves.

Patient-centric design

Owen Mumford has responded to the demand for safer and effective syringe devices. The market largely comprises retractable and non-retractable safety syringes that use springs, which have led to accidental activation, under-dosing and other issues. These problems impact treatment efficacy and may prevent patients from using further medication.

When designing its passive safety device, the firm knew that it needed to create a device that would remain effective and reduce treatment barriers, including painful administration, bulky design and uncomfortable use, while offering suitability for prefilled-syringe vendors. The device had to respond to patient needs, and simultaneously promote responsibility and accountability. Endorsing a patient-centric approach meant that the device’s design had to be easy to use and safer for healthcare workers.

Owen Mumford developed UniSafe, a springless passive safety device that works with existing prefillable syringes, which increases patient confidence, reduces treatment barriers, and eliminates the risks and challenges posed by traditional syringes. This device works like a normal syringe, and healthcare providers can use UniSafe for multiple injectable formulations.

When using traditional devices, end users can experience anxiety due to a lack of visibility or confidence that a treatment has been executed correctly. UniSafe provides a clear prefilled syringe barrel that enables users to view the drug and labelling without having to spin the barrel, reducing the risk of under-dosing. A recent study that tested UniSafe found that 94% of nurses agreed that it was simple to view medication with the device, while 89% of patients stated that UniSafe made it easier to monitor dose delivery.

The device’s passive needle-retraction mechanism also prevents users from having to shield the needle after use. UniSafe’s strong grip is another key component in promoting end user confidence and safer administration. A larger, ergonomic plunger head and a smoother, more integrated finger flange result in a device that ensures patients and healthcare providers can use the device confidently, regardless of hand size, dexterity or condition.

Responding to market changes

Owen Mumford is working closely with pharmaceutical partners to adapt products in order to meet the growing demand for injectable treatments. Manufacturers that use a patient-centric design are evolving with market and customer requirements. The development of injectable devices needs communication between end users and manufacturers, in order to encourage treatment adherence and help patients to manage their condition.