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The dilemma: packaging a drug for a condition that makes self-administration difficult
UCB Pharma is successfully rolling out its biotech product Cimzia (certolizumab pegol) for a variety of conditions based on the harmful effects of a cytokine, tumor necrosis factor. Last spring it was approved for Crohn’s disease, and this summer for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The product was initially offered as a lyophilized material for administration in a doctor’s office, but now UCB has reformulated it for self-administration via a pre-filled syringe.
“Some RA patients want to go to a doctor for administration; some do not,” says David Robinson, VP and GM at UCB’s operations in Smyrna, GA. “We did extensive patient research to understand both how RA sufferers cope with their condition, and how to shape a self-administered syringe that would work for them.” The resulting product, designed in conjunction with OXO International, a New York consumer-appliances manufacturer, features novel grip surfaces for using the syringe, a looped cap for easy removal and an oval barrel for additional ease of use. The design has won a commendation from the Arthritis Foundation for its usability.
UCB gave a couple presentations at this year’s annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology (Philadelphia; Oct. 17), showing good results on administering Cimzia for up to 100 weeks (with biweekly administration). “It’s still early in our commercialization of Cimzia, but we’re pleased with the uptake so far,” says Robinson. “Factoring patient needs into the design of the product has taught us a lot.” PC