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Thirty years of DDL

Space: the final frontier… and the inspiration behind our recent exhibition stand at DDL (Drug Delivery to the Lungs) 2019. As DDL celebrated its 30th year of bringing the respiratory industry together, we took a look back at the key milestones and developments that have shaped the industry over the decades. From drugs and devices to legislation and standards, we’ve selected a few to highlight.

Looking back…

There have been a number of significant new technologies and devices introduced since DDL first welcomed industry delegates in 1989. As well as the emergence of DPIs and capsule inhalers, we’ve seen the release of the Respimat Soft Mist Inhaler (FDA approved in 2004), and TEVA’s Digihaler, ProAir – the first approved inhaler with a companion app.

When it comes to regulation, it’s surprising how much has changed. The Medical Devices Directive – soon to be superseded in 2020 – first came into force in Europe in 1993. Other central standards such as ISO 13485 (the basis for all medical device quality management systems in Europe) and ISO 14971 (which covers risk management of medical devices) came into force in the mid-late 90s, and are just some examples of developments.

…and looking forward

Looking to the future, the conference saw significant discussion on the topic of sustainability; the role of drugs and devices in contributing to environmental damage, and the challenge of becoming a more sustainable industry.

It was great to spend time learning about and discussing topics that will affect the industry as a whole; a particular issue raised was that of the impact of pMDI propellant inhalers. Though detrimental to the environment, they are an important part of the lives of thousands of patients whose conditions are controlled and managed via these devices. This throws up an interesting moral argument: is it worth sacrificing patients’ disease management in withdrawing devices that are environmentally damaging? Does patient health take priority over environmental protection, or the other way around?

The rush to develop connected devices seems to have slowed, while the real needs for connectivity are considered. We can add connected capabilities, but how useful are they in furthering a product’s end goal?

As always, DDL was a great event; bringing together a swathe of industry and academic experts in the respiratory drug delivery field. We look forward to supporting this invaluable conference for many more decades to come!

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