Drug Delivery Systems
Markets and Applications for Nanotechnology Derived Drug Delivery Systems
The most promising aspect of pharmaceuticals and medicine as it relates to nanotechnology is currently drug delivery. In the words of LaVan and Langer: ‘It is likely that the pharmaceutical industry will transition from a paradigm of drug discovery by screening compounds to the purposeful engineering of targeted molecules.’
Reasons Why the Drug Delivery Market is Rapidly Expanding
At present, there are 30 main drug delivery products on the market. The total annual income for all of these is approximately US$33 billion with an annual growth of 15% (based on global product revenue). Two major drivers are primarily responsible for this increase in the market. First, present advances in diagnostic technology appear to be outpacing advances in new therapeutic agents. Highly detailed information from a patient is becoming available, thus promoting much more specific use of pharmaceuticals. Second, the acceptance of new drug formulations is expensive and slow, taking up to 15 years to obtain accreditation of new drug formulas with no guarantee of success.
How Drug Companies are Reacting to this Expansion
In response, some companies are trying to hurry the long clinical phase required in Western medicine. However, powerful incentives remain to investigate new techniques that can more effectively deliver or target existing drugs (Saxl, 2000). In addition, many of these new tools will have foundation in current techniques: a targeted molecule may simply add spatial or temporal resolution to an existing assay. Thus, although many potential applications are envisaged, the actual near future products are not much more than better research tools or aids to diagnosis. These are summarised in the following three tables.
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