Becton Dickinson (BD) is launching what could be the world’s smallest pen needle designed for insulin delivery. Patients in the United States will be the first recipients as BD aim to head up a market worth roughly $174bn (€145bn).
The Ultra-Fine Nano needle aims to offer a more comfortable injection as well as assist patients in sticking to their diabetes therapy regimen. Demand for a more convenient treatment is rapidly rising as the condition approaches near-epidemic proportions, particularly in the US.
Currently, the figure stands at an estimated 23.6m people or 7.8 per cent of the population who have the disease. Of those individuals, approximately 17.9m have been diagnosed with another 5.7m thought to unknowingly have the condition.
BD claims the short length (4 mm) and thin gauge (32 G) of the Nano pen needle has proven to consistently deliver an insulin dose to subcutaneous tissue - the recommended site for insulin injections.
Its unique selling point though is its size. The smallest available needle previously was also produced by BD. With its Ultra-Fine Mini pen needle (31 gauge, 5 mm (3/16"), diabetics could also control insulin administration with a minimum of fuss.
The Nano needle also seeks to reduce the risk of an intramuscular injection. This is a common occurrence and can accelerate absorption, increasing the risk of hypoglycaemia (abnormally low blood sugar). Subcutaneous injection allows the insulin to be absorbed at an appropriate rate, resulting in better glycaemic control.
“Diabetes tools have just gotten a lot better with the release of BD’s new 4 mm insulin pen needle,” said Kris Swenson, RN, CDE and co-owner and co-founder of the Diabetes Management and Training Centers in Phoenix, Arizona.
“The latest science shows that insulin injections with these new short and fine pen needles are much less frightening. This should help people get started on insulin much sooner, before long-term health problems occur.”
As many as one-third of people with diabetes are hesitant to give themselves insulin injections. One of the primary reasons includes needle anxiety. Patients who reported injection-related pain or embarrassment deliberately skipped insulin injections.
This is especially evident in elderly diabetic sufferers, whose reluctance to embark on insulin therapy as well as problems with handling some injection devices may prove doubly difficult in controlling the condition.
“We are confident that this tiny needle can have a big impact by easing diabetes patients’ transition and ongoing adherence to injectable drug therapy regimens,” said Linda Tharby, President, BD Medical – Diabetes Care.
BD has a long history in manufacturing syringes for insulin delivery. Having produced the first insulin syringe in 1924, BD also launched the first 5mm pen needle in 1999.
BD’s launch of the first 4mm pen needle to the U.S. market is another first and seeks to get the jump on fellow medical technology companies Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly.
According to market intelligence firm, Life Science Intelligence, the diabetes management products market, which includes insulin injection devices and insulin pumps, has become one of the largest medical device and pharmaceutical markets in the US, totalling more than $15bn.
As the population of diabetics continues to increase, the market is expected to continue to grow at a double-digit rate over the next five years, reaching nearly $28bn by 2013.