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One of the challenges for many medical treatments is patient compliance. Many of today’s medications require the careful administration of precise dosages, and often must be delivered at specific intervals throughout the day. Getting patients to reliably perform these tasks can be a real problem, even with the most motivated individuals. As a result, patients must visit a doctor’s office or even may need to be hospitalized — at considerable expense — simply to make sure that they receive their medications correctly.

West Pharmaceutical Services is developing a solution to this problem: the SmartDose. According to the company, this is the first wearable patch injector that has been tested on human subjects. The device includes a concealed needle that is activated once the patch is applied to the patient’s skin. Visual and audible feedback provides indicators about the device’s status, whether it is operating correctly, or when it needs to be removed or refilled. The device works with a disposable plastic cartridge that comes pre-filled with the correct amount of medication. The device is programmable, so that precise amounts of the medication can be administered over a period of time, and the cartridge can be replaced to refill the device.

With human testing complete, the company is looking for pharmaceutical companies who want to partner with West to use the system to deliver medications to patients. The simple, automated system will be more convenient for patients, and will deliver treatment more reliably at a lower cost without requiring trips to a doctor’s office or hospital. This could be especially helpful for elderly patients who might not be able to adhere to a rigorous schedule for treatment.