Inhaler counts on patented design
Increasing focus in the US on compliance prompted Sanofi-Aventis to want to add a dose counter to its Metered Dry Powder Inhaler (MDPI) for patients with respiratory problems. It selected PDD to conceive, design and implement an inhaler counter to inform patients accurately of the doses remaining in the device.
PDD formed an integrated project team with the company’s suppliers in Europe, Scandinavia and the US to understand the project constraints and used ethnographic research techniques to establish use requirements from asthma experts, nurses and patient.
Significant challenges were that the device needed to be held upright when reading the counter, and that its mechanism had to circumvent a mature intellectual property minefield. Sanofi-Aventis also wanted to maintain the proven device functionality and to make both the new and existing “Ultrahaler” versions on existing, automated assembly plant and filling-lines.
PDD developed a patented and compact counter mechanism; a wheel within a transparent wheel that also displays patented colour flags at near empty trigger points. The powder-resistant and fault-tolerant mechanism was verified on models and tooled prototypes before specification for 6 Sigma manufacture.