In the CDC’s 2020 National Diabetes Statistics Report, the national health protection agency states that 34.2 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. That number represents 10.5% of the U.S. population, including 26.9 million diagnosed people and 7.3 million whose diabetes has not been diagnosed. If you include the 88 million U.S. adults that the CDC reports as having prediabetes, that means 45% of the U.S. population 18 or older have either the disease or its precursor.

Diabetes prevalence spurs research and development of technology that can help patients manage the disease. We’ve written frequently about continuous glucose monitors, insulin pumps, and closed-loop systems that perform the tasks of both devices, in effect functioning as an artificial pancreas. Earlier this month, Phillips-Medisize and Subcuject announced a collaboration to complete the development and establish manufacturing capacity to take Subcuject’s Wearable Osmotic Bolus Injector to market.

Subcuject and Phillips cite a large market demand with unfilled demand for pre-filled, low-cost, wearable, single-use injectors. The Wearable Osmotic Bolus Injector fits all four listed attributes. The injector does not use batteries to power its function. Instead, osmosis generates sufficient force to move the insulin into the patient’s body.

Here’s how it works. The user wears the device as a patch on their abdomen. Pushing a small plunger inserts a needle into the patient’s skin, and also releases a quantity of dissolved osmotic agent into a pressure chamber. The resulting osmosis draws water into the chamber which in turn uses hydraulic pressure to inject a solution through the needle to treat the patient (which is insulin in the case of diabetics). The design allows slow injection of the bolus and when the plunger in the pressure chamber reaches the final position, the needle automatically retracts. The patient then removes and discards the device, which Subcuject claims is constructed of environmentally friendly materials.

Phillips-Medisize and Subcuject are continuing development work on the injector to increase the device’s capability to deliver larger quantities of a variety of pharmaceuticals with the self-administered injector. The two companies cite the design’s simplicity, ease of use, and low cost. Patients can inject the drug payload on their own without taking the time of healthcare staff, further extending resource savings. Diabetics are the initial market target, but the collaboration looks further to other suitable applications.