The recent development of a J & J self-injection device is a step forward in controlling healthcare costs while empowering patients to manage their own treatment regime.
West Pharmaceutical Services, a US manufacturer, have joined forces with Janssen, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, to develop a self-injection device known as ‘Self Dose’, for patients wanting to control their own intake of pharmaceutical or biologic drugs. Under this agreement, West is responsible for developing the manufacturing and commercial production processes of the product on Janssen’s behalf.
Developing a medical device that patients can use themselves is not a new concept although the self-injection facility is. Last month, Genetech, a biotechnology firm, reformulated their cancer drug so that it could be delivered through injection rather than intravenous drip. Janssen could make this delivery even easier by offering Genetech a self-administered solution for their drug which the team saw the potential for. Patients could take any injection-based treatment at home without the cost of having doctors or nurses to deliver the drug. Necessary care would not be delayed or ignored because there is a lesser need to make frequent or overnight visits to health facilities.
However, before patients are encouraged to use this device, they need to be taught how to use it. Non-adherence to treatment often occurs as a 10 to 15 minute consultation with a doctor is never enough to help the patient fully understand how to treat their disease. In the above instance, West Pharmaceutical Services and Janssen could work together to develop educational programmes that could be delivered by various health professionals to patients who want to use this injection device. This self- injection education could be delivered in a patient group environment at a later stage.
Patients can not only learn from the speakers as well as from each other as they will all share similar obstacles and successes of the treatment. West and Janssen could create these educational talks to complement any sessions with doctors or nurses and could reduce fears about a patient’s ability to manage treatment on their own.
Furthermore, a patient monitoring device can also be fitted to this device for an initial period to ensure safety although the above education programme, currently used by the Central Hastings Family Health Team in the US, is a better long-term solution. It will show patients that health professionals do value their ability to take charge of their treatment without the need to be monitored constantly. In addition, a plan for convincing health insurers and other health bodies to compensate patients for using this device, needs to be drafted.
All in all, the rest of the pharmaceutical industry can start discussions on how their existing drugs could fit this self-administered solution. Talks could take place on whether this self healthcare solution could work for any disease, especially conditions that require more than one dose of drugs. This solution also encourages the industry to remain innovative in manufacturing even if a solution for a condition already exists. More money for R&D would exist as doctors or nurses would not have to administer these doses. At this stage, other pharmaceutical companies could also approach Janssen and West and collaborate with them to develop a holistic adherence programme for patients wanting to use this device. Through further collaboration, this device could become popular in countries other than the US so that the worldwide patient population could start having the confidence to manage their own healthcare.
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