3 key challenges that inhalation devices face for drug delivery

7 June 2023

Inhalation devices play a crucial role in drug delivery, especially for treating respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, these devices also face several challenges that can impact their effectiveness. Here are just three key challenges that we have highlighted.

Device design and usability:

One significant challenge is designing inhalation devices that are user-friendly and easy to operate. Patients with respiratory conditions may have difficulty using complex devices, especially if they have limited dexterity or cognitive impairments. The design should consider factors such as ergonomics, intuitive instructions, and clear feedback mechanisms to ensure proper device handling. Poor device design and usability can lead to incorrect administration, resulting in suboptimal drug delivery and reduced therapeutic efficacy.

Dose consistency and drug deposition:

Achieving consistent and accurate drug dosing is another challenge for inhalation devices. The delivery of medication through the respiratory system requires precise control of particle size and airflow to ensure optimal drug deposition in the target areas of the lungs. Variations in device performance, such as inconsistent aerosol generation or improper drug dispersion, can result in uneven drug delivery and inadequate therapeutic outcomes. Maintaining consistent dose delivery across different devices and batches is essential for ensuring the desired therapeutic effect.

Patient adherence and training:

Patient adherence to prescribed inhalation regimens is crucial for effective treatment. However, maintaining consistent adherence can be challenging [1], and non-compliance is a common issue. Inhalation devices often require multiple steps, proper coordination of inhalation technique, and regular cleaning and maintenance. Lack of understanding, forgetfulness, or difficulty in following complex instructions can lead to poor patient compliance. Additionally, inadequate training and education about device usage and correct inhalation techniques can hinder proper drug delivery and reduce treatment efficacy. It is crucial to provide comprehensive patient education, clear instructions, and regular follow-up to address adherence challenges.

Overall, addressing these challenges through innovative device design, improved drug formulation, patient education, and healthcare provider support is crucial for maximizing the effectiveness of inhalation devices in drug delivery.

We have worked extensively to address these challenges with clients developing inhalation devices. Contact us today to find out how we can help you progress the development of your device.

[1] Gillisen A. Patient’s adherence in asthma. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2007 Nov;58 Suppl 5(Pt 1):205-22. PMID: 18204131.


Written by Heather Jameson, Senior Engineer.