Design ingenuity delivers patient-centred innovation
A leading pharmaceutical company producing topical applications for psoriasis sufferers asked PDD to improve the use, compliance and efficacy of its treatments.
We proposed a project to understand the existing challenge, identify opportunities and explore new ideas that would improve experiences, be commercially viable and create new intellectual property. We worked with the client to map the treatment journey which allowed us to scope research work to address the identified knowledge gaps.
We conducted ethnographic research and diary studies with patients and clinicians within the UK, France and the USA. The research findings revealed that the application of topical medicines was often awkward, messy, time consuming, lacked control and dosing volumes were often misunderstood.
Concurrent concept creation and feasibility studies included research of analogous technology and patent mapping. The synthesis of research findings with concepts helped to establish short, medium and long-term innovation strategies for our client. Of these, the first device developed is an economic and disposable, patient-use, non-contact applicator to deliver gel to the body and scalp.
Inevitably, a new device type is accompanied with fresh technical challenges: The desire for long shelf-life – despite an active ingredient sensitive to materials, light and air – meant a 2-part applicator with separate pump and cartridge was required. Achieving accurate and repeatable control of minute 0.05g doses required a precision pump and means to displace air as the user assembles the cartridge. The applicator needs to maintain performance over a wide range of temperatures, humidity and pressure and this was achieved with only a few inert grades of polymer and elastomer-free seals.
PDD worked closely with the client throughout this turnkey development on every aspect: from managing technical and commercial challenges through to usability testing of the device and instructions for use.
Launched in July 2015, the new applicator is simple and convenient to use and store. The soft delivery nozzle applies and gently massages gel onto the scalp rather than the hair. Its shape allows controlled dosing to difficult-to-reach areas such as behind ears and between fingers. The body spreading surface allows large areas to be covered easily, evenly and cleanly. A cap protects the spreading surfaces, maintains hygiene and seals the device during user storage and transit. The cartridge and pump efficiency means the contained product is used with minimal leave-behind volume.
This patient-centred and inventive approach created patents and differentiation for our client in a competitive psoriasis market and has produced a platform device suitable for other dermatological applications in its range. It has proved to be a simple, convenient and effective solution for patients wanting to reduce the stress and mess of applying treatments.