A new report, based on input from industry experts, says that there is growing market potential for the integration of electronic functionality into drug-delivery devices. Published by Cambridge Consultants (Cambridge, UK), "2020: A New Drug Delivery Landscape" summarizes the proceedings of two workshops hosted by Cambridge Consultants and attended by experts from the drug-delivery and pharmaceutical industries, including representatives from giants such as Astra Zeneca, Novartis, and GSK as well as start-ups. Held in Boston and Leicestershire, UK, in April 2009, the workshops focused on the key issues and opportunities that will influence the drug-delivery industry over the next 10 years. According to the report, devices with advanced electronic functionality are expected to take an increasing share of the systemic delivery market in the next few years, constituting a major growth opportunity for innovative companies. A perspective prevalent in the United States is that complex electronics technologies are maturing, enabling regulators and pharmaceuticals companies to gain the confidence needed for broad acceptance. While upbeat on the prospects of incorporating new technologies into drug-delivery devices, delegates from Europe pointed to increasing regulation surrounding waste and environmental impact. Issues such as battery and microelectronics disposal will require specific measures if they are not to impede the proliferation of such advanced devices. Andrew Diston, Global Medtech Practice Leader at Cambridge Consultants, remarks, "The world of pharmaceutical delivery is poised to realize many of the benefits of technological advances from other industries, where standards are reaching towards the requirements for medical applications. These workshops identified much optimism in the market. Reliable microelectronics platforms may provide significant additional functionality and connectivity for new delivery devices, providing great opportunities for innovative pharma companies and new start-ups alike to play a part in this healthcare revolution." While delegates acknowledged that there is a severe short-term shortage of investment capital to fund such innovation, the long-term outlook is more hopeful. "Governments in Europe and the U.S. are carefully considering the impact of an aging population and increasing chronic disease on the future cost of healthcare," Diston says. "The result of this will be a renewed effort to make healthcare expenditure go further, which will mean a renewed focus on efficient systems that deliver better patient outcomes. The future leaders in this new market may be those companies that capitalize on the opportunity to significantly improve patient outcomes through enhanced device functionality."
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