Market research firm says needle-free vaccine delivery is the wave of the future

Expect more needle-free vaccines to come to the market on the heels of the first approval of a needle-free delivery system for the inactivated flu vaccine, market research firm Frost & Sullivan says.

The firm predicts that the next 5 to 10 years will feature vaccines delivered via transdermal patches, intradermal biodegradable implants, tablets and inhalers.

"The delivery of drugs through needle-free devices is gaining acceptance owing to the availability of more formulations for needle-free deliveries," said Frost & Sullivan Healthcare Research Analyst Swathi Allada in a statement. "Significant advancements have been made, most of which have centered on addressing patient comfort levels and increasing the adoption of self-injectable therapies."

In particular, the Frost & Sullivan release touts the postage stamp-sized nanopatch, a needleless vaccine delivery system with thousands of coated nanospikes. "The nanopatch achieves precise, controlled and consistent skin penetration along with rapid dissolution and diffusion of the vaccine," noted Allada. "Early stage tests conducted on mouse models have shown that the nanopatch-delivered flu vaccine is effective even with 1/150th of the dose normally given through a traditional syringe."

Vaxxas' nanopatch needle-free delivery system--Courtesy of Vaxxas

FierceDrugDelivery was already hot on the trail of technology in 2013, naming it one of the most promising future drug delivery applications. The nanopatch allows for a much smaller dose, zero refrigeration and muscle delivery that reduces contact with immune cells. In 2012 Merck ($MRK) presented Australia's Vaxxas with a three-year grant to further develop the product.

Late last month Colorado-based PharmaJet secured approval for the Stratis needle-free jet injection system to deliver the flu vaccine. A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study demonstrated that the incidence of needlestick injury is more than three out of every 100,000 vaccinations administered, demonstrating the safety benefits of needle-free technology. And privately held AntiOp makes a similar argument about needlestick injections in support of its intranasal version of naloxone to treat emergency cases of opioid overdose from heroin or prescription painkillers.

The inertia of traditional vaccinations, or other needle-delivered products, must be overcome for needle-less delivery take off. And that includes the regulatory front. For example, in 2011, the FDA said that each jet-injected vaccine preparation must be approved separately by the agency's biologics arm, even though the the device arm had already approved the delivery device.

- read the release from Frost & Sullivan

Special Report: The Future of Nanotech Drug Delivery - Nanopatch for more effective vaccination