Last week saw the eighth edition of the Medicon Valley Inhalation Consortium workshop and symposium at Medicon Village in Lund. The four-day event attracted participants from a number of international pharmaceutical companies wanting to expand their knowledge of the inhalation sector and share their experiences. Among the presenters was Iconovo’s CEO Orest Lastow.
The Medicon Valley Inhalation Consortium (MVIC), headed by CEO Lars Asking, is an umbrella organisation with 26 member companies, all with expertise in inhalation devices. MVIC was founded after AstraZeneca moved from Lund and the aim of the organisation is to harness the inhalation know-how in the region. The members are all based in Sweden and are active within a broad spectrum – MVIC’s membership consists of everything from drug developing companies to regulatory experts.
A popular and international event
MVIC has been organising the workshop and symposium with the aim of spreading knowledge within the inhalation sector, and this year marked the eighth edition. Over the years, the event has grown and attracted a growing number of participants. A quick glance at the participation list for this year is enough to establish that the event nowadays attracts international players and big names within the sector. For example, this year Italian Chiesi Farmaceutici and Finnish Orion took part.
Among the speakers, we noted Swedish experts such as Iconovo’s CEO Orest Lastow and Red Glead’s medicinal chemist Thomas Brimert.
Development of inhalation devices- a complex process
Administering drugs through inhalation comes with several benefits: the drug reaches the organ in question directly and thus causes fewer systemic side effects. The fact that the drug passes through the lungs also means that facilitates its entrance into the blood circulation and inhaled drugs are also very fast-acting.
Last week’s MVIC-event underlined just how complex the process of developing an inhalation device is and how many parameters need to be taken into account. Companies wishing to develop a new inhalation product need to decide if the drug will be in the form of dry powder or as a wet substance as well as which type of inhalator is the most compatible with the chosen formulation.
Another challenge is presented by the question of how to ensure that the patient receives as much as possible of the drug dose. Only 10 – 30 per cent of the inhaled dose reaches the patient’s lungs; the rest gets stuck, e.g. in the mouth and is swallowed without giving any effect.
Patients need better products
Yet another interesting issue concerns so-called patient adherence. Even though patients take care to use the inhalators when they first receive them, daily use decreases as time moves on, meaning that they do not take their medication as they should.
In his presentation, Orest Lastow emphasised the need to develop more user-friendly products for the patients and the importance of the sector focusing on this development. Many of today’s inhalers suffer from a number of weaknesses, e.g. it can be difficult to know how much of the drug is left in the inhaler and whether the dose is inhaled correctly. Lastow pointed out that it is the responsibility of the pharmaceutical companies to develop products that are as easy as possible for the patients to use.
Iconovo goes for user-friendly products
These are not just empty words for Lastow, and in his role as CEO of Iconovo he contributes to the development of new inhalers where user-friendly aspects and fulfilling the patients’ needs are the focus. Iconovo develops inhalation products that are then out licensed to pharmaceutical companies; at the moment, the company has three finished inhalers – ICOcap, ICOone and ICOres – that can be filled with substance-specific dry powder formulations.
Iconovo’s inhalers are designed with the patient in mind and with the aim of making it as easy as possible for the patients to take their medicine and feel secure in their treatment. ICOres, for example, shows the patient exactly how many doses are left in the inhaler and also gives a visual feedback showing when the dose is ready to be inhaled and when it has been inhaled correctly. By doing this Iconovo hopes to simplify the treatment that these patients rely on and have to administer every day as they are often suffering from chronic diseases such as asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
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