3M Drug Delivery Expands Inhaler Options

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - June 2009

Carrier tapes deliver precise dosages that can be pure API; canister technology improves pressurized dose delivery

Claiming that more than half of all metered-dose inhalers (MDIs) deploy 3M technology, the St. Paul, MN, company is extending its product line with two new designs: the Taper and Conix Dry Powder Inhalers. The Taper unit (Fig. 1), recently introduced at a Respiratory Drug Delivery conference in Lisbon, Portugal, stores API on a “dimpled,” microstructured carrier tape. Up to 120 metered doses, each up to 1 mg of API, are embedded on the carrier tape. When a patient inhales through the device, the patient’s airflow activates an impactor that releases the dose from the tape. 3M says that the carrier tape structure obviates the need for lactose or other excipient powders to sustain product release, thus allowing the tape to carry API only on its surface.

FIG. 1. TAPER INHALER. credit: 3M

The Conix design (Fig. 2) incorporates a reverse-flow cyclone to control airflow. The patient’s breath activates the movement of powder to the patient, while controlling the effects of moisture. The design is currently available for such applications as mass immunizations or vaccinations, and treatment of asthma, COPD or hay fever.

“We are the leader in MDI delivery systems and now we’re advancing full-steam into DPI drug delivery with several significant offerings,” says Jim Vaughan, division VP, 3M Drug Delivery Systems.

Pressurized components

For inhaler applications where a pressurized spray is desired, 3M has recently developed two innovations: a plasma-based coating for the pressurized canister (Fig. 3), and a face-seal valve that simplifies dose delivery. (“Plasma” is an ionized stream of atoms; the industrial process is a way of coating surfaces with desired chemical attributes.) The plasma coating, which can be applied to metal or plastic containers, is especially useful for APIs that degrade when in contact with metal oxides. The coating can also minimize deposition on the container surface.


The face seal innovation eliminates the need to prime an inhaler by collecting the dose as the inhaler is fired. According to 3M, traditional pMDI valves operate on a “dose retention” principle, collecting the dose when the valve stem is released after firing. Over time, this can lead to loss of prime or loss of dose, which is why patients are advised to prime these inhalers by firing an uninhaled shot before use. The 3M Face Seal Valve eliminates the need for this extra step, simplifying the process for patients and making compliance easier. PC


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