Thursday, 28. September 2006

The eFlow Electronic Nebulizer by Pari GmbH Delivers Required Medications Quickly and is Child Friendly

The eFlow Electronic Nebulizer by Pari GmbH Delivers Required Medications Quickly and is Child Friendly

Getting There: It’s All in the Delivery

eFlow Electronic Nebulizer. Aerosol medication delivery is a popular method for diseases that require pointed drug delivery, especially to the lungs. As a rule, however, the design of these life-saving devices still need much improvement. Nebulizers are bulky and inefficient. With a commonly used nebulizer, administration of drugs that treat asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, pneumonia, and other diseases can take anywhere from 8–30 minutes. And, as the drugs often require several administrations per day, patients often complain about inconvenience.

With a new delivery technique in hand, Pari GmbH (Munich, Germany) decided to tackle the various problems presented by nebulizers. And the company’s efforts are impressive. “This nebulizer is a very friendly product, especially for children,” says MDEA juror Mary Beth Privitera, assistant professor, biomedical engineering, in the medical device innovation and entrepreneurship program at the University of Cincinnati. Privitera says the eFlow allows patients more portability. It is also less intimidating than other nebulizers on the market, she says.

The eFlow Electronic Nebulizer features a vibrating membrane that concentrates the drug and reduces waste as the drug is aerosolized. Concentrated delivery means a 2–3× reduction in administration time. But the change is so dramatic that it is difficult to compare. That is, a drug that usually takes 8–30 minutes to administer may only take 15–20 breaths with the eFlow.

Designers also spent time with the shape and feel of the product. “It is easily packed, stored, and assembled with good design resolution in regard to the ergonomics of medication delivery and aesthetics,” says Privitera. The eFlow is a portable device that can run on batteries or a car charger. The designers gave the device a modular structure that is lightweight and promotes intuitive use. According to its submission, the team spent considerable effort designing audible sounds and lights to guide patients through use. They also created a special mouthpiece to position the device properly.

According to the company, the focus on human factors design combined with increased delivery efficiency will give patients greater incentive for compliance. Juror William Hyman, a professor in the department of biomedical engineering at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX, says “This improves delivery and compliance and reduces lifestyle interruptions. It combines an advance in underlying technology with an attractive and user-friendly unit.”

The design is far from finished, however. “One challenge with the product is that you must pour the medication into a rather small target,” says Privitera. “This was noted in their submission very honestly, as were other potential improvements.” The company has performed several user surveys and will no doubt continue to improve the device based on those results.