Amgen launches delivery device for automatic administration of its blockbuster Neulasta

Amgen ($AMGN) just announced the debut of the Neulasta Delivery Kit to automatically deliver the medication for infection prevention among cancer patients about 27 hours after chemotherapy, thereby ensuring compliance with the dosing instructions.

Some patients come to the hospital the day after chemotherapy solely to get an injection of Neulasta, Amgen says, while others may skip it all together. The drug (which had blockbuster sales of $4.4 billion in 2013) is supposed to be taken at least 24 hours after cytotoxic chemotherapy.

Now patients can wear the delivery kit's On-body Injector for automated subcutaneous delivery of the medication. The drug delivery device is applied by the healthcare provider. But first the practitioner must insert the medication in the device's medicine port using the traditional Neulasta prefilled syringe.

The On-body Injector beeps when it is activated and has an indicator to show when it is fully loaded with the liquid medication. The device adheres to the patient's abdomen or arm.

The traditional prefilled syringe may be used by a nonprofessional caregiver, and the old delivery method will remain an option. But research has shown that most people don't use drug delivery devices properly. In addition, automated delivery offers patients added convenience.

Still, Amgen says patients should avoid certain activities and monitor the On-body Injector during the entire 45-minute delivery period.

Biologics like Neulasta cannot be taken orally since they degrade upon contact with acids in the stomach, so nontraditional methods of administration are in high demand.

Teva ($TEVA) already has EU-approved biosimilar versions of Neulasta and its cousin Neupogen. The two meds combined raked in $1.45 billion during Amgen's most recent quarter. And with the U.S. Neulasta patent expiring this October, innovations like the delivery kit are needed to keep Amgen's drug one step ahead of the copycats.

- read the release
- get more about the delivery kit from Amgen (PDF)

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