Advancing next generation medical products

05 October 2021


An aging population and the growing threat of emerging infectious viral diseases, such as COVID-19, mean that healthcare around the world is an extremely important issue, and is changing in dramatic and dynamic ways. To meet these changes, a new generation of specialized and sustainable medical material solutions is being born. Read on to learn more about how this industry is changing, and to explore an example of medical device innovation.

If you haven’t seen a doctor in-person since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, you’re not alone. Telemedicine and care-on-demand have boomed in the past 12 months and are two of a number of growing trends in global healthcare. Another trend, in an era of increasing personalized medicine, is the development of biologic drug products. A huge growth market, revenue of biologic drug companies has increased by 70% in the last five years, to more than 232-billion US dollars. Yet, the high patient doses required for biologic therapeutics can present very real challenges to drug delivery. Whatever the trend, and in whichever directions healthcare further develops, the goal is always to safe guard and improve the life of patients.

Plastic materials in medical devices and pharmaceutical packaging are increasingly playing a vital role in the delivery of safe treatments and their use is expected to rise further. This can be attributed to the fact that they provide design freedom, protection, convenience and functionality that few other materials can match. Globally in 2020, around 7.6 million tons of plastics were used in healthcare applications and this is expected to grow at around 8.6% from 2020 to 2027.  Companies that supply plastic materials within the healthcare market must have in-depth industry knowledge, along with advanced technical and design capabilities, to develop innovative solutions that truly meet their customers’ challenges.

Let’s take a look at one example of an innovative solution – a conceptual auto-injector, where next-gen meets industry trends for surface functionality and aesthetics.

Auto-injectors are an excellent example of innovation, bringing greater convenience and control to patients’ lives. Playing into the telemedicine, care-on-demand and biologics trends, they offer drug self-management and administration, technology-driven monitoring and diagnostics, and the ability to administer increased drug volumes and large molecule biologics.

This example study outlines a conceptual auto-injector developed through Avient – a new materials company born of two legacy leaders, PolyOne and Clariant Masterbatch. It will illustrate how Avient used innovative materials, design, and technology services to accelerate next-generation product development.

An auto-injector’s injection window and cap require excellent clarity, scratch resistance and exceptional toughness for visualization of medication levels. In this study, a UV blocker additive was used to protect the drug content from harmful UV radiation without sacrificing clarity or transparency. Next, a vibrant masterbatch formulation (MEVOPUR™ medical-grade colorants) was used to allow for product differentiation, better drug identification and consistent branding. The MEVOPUR colors highlight the cap, button, batch/SKU identifier, trigger and plunger. The raw materials were tested against common pharmacutical standards to ensure that the devices would be safe and compliant from a regulatory perspective.

On the body of the auto-injector a laser marking additive was used to allow ink-free marking, with no surface pre-treatment required, avoiding solvent residues. The additive offered reliability and process improvement over traditional marking technologies, and improved the design possibilities due to no physical contact with the marking system. This type of laser marking functionality can be combined with other functions or colorants in order to meet performance and aesthetic needs. In addition, to fight the rise of counterfeit medicines and devices in the healthcare industry, Avient has also developed a complete in-plastic solution that protects from counterfeiting, while enabling medical device companies to ensure supply chain integrity with low impact on productivity and operations.

For the integrated rigid needle shield and the device’s stopper, biocompatibility, durability and overmolding are critical. A medical-grade TPE (Versaflex™ HC TPE) provided a replacement for rubber, with sealing properties to prevent needle contamination and oxygen contact with medication in prefilled syringes. These TPEs are USP VI tested and chemically resistant with low extractability and no tearing.

Drug viscosity has a direct impact on patients’ pain during drug administration. Therefore, the device’s heating system and heat exchanger used thermally conductive formulations to help warm and reduce the drug viscosity of biologics.

Technology is transforming the way care is delivered by making it simpler, easier, more collaborative, and more data driven. This conceptual auto-injector is a demonstration in how next-generation materials and expertise in design can truly improve a finished device.

Are you ready to take on the future of medical devices production and need a place to start or find a new opportunity? See how we can help you here!

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