Drug delivery trends at PDA & PODD

08 Nov 2022 5min read

Two key drug delivery industry conferences took place in the USA recently: PDA’s Universe of Prefilled Syringes and Injection Devices and the 12th Annual Partnership Opportunities in Drug Delivery (PODD). There was plenty of overlap in content, both focused as they are on current hot topics in the drug delivery sector, but in other ways they were as different as the locations where they were held.

In a baking-hot, blue-skied Palm Springs, PDA felt to have fully returned to pre-COVID size and intensity. There was plenty to keep the ~900 attendees busy for the two full days with over 120 exhibition stands, posters, a Tech Talk area and an extensive conference programme covering, amongst other things:

  • technologies e.g. connected devices, digital ecosystems, large volume injectors (some now delivering 5ml)
  • user related topics such as improving patient engagement and adherence, or moving treatments to home setting
  • manufacturing, from specific challenges such as needle blockage, to more general considerations of design transfer and commercialisation
  • regulatory updates including the updated ISO 11608 series and MDR Article 117
photo of conference before giving talk

This year Team Consulting presented on three different topics, with a talk from Alastair Willoughby on “Assessing the environmental impact of global supply chain logistics and supplier selection for injection devices”, my own talk on “Selecting and collaborating with manufacturing partners to achieve successful product launch”, as well as a poster by John Burke on “Design considerations for emergency-use autoinjectors”.

The 75+ total speakers came from all sectors of the industry including global Pharma, medical device CDMOs, supplier networks and consultancy companies, who between them had well over 1,300 years of medical device experience. That’s a great deal of knowledge at one time in one place, before you even consider what all the delegates bring. To be back at a face-to-face conference gave much more opportunity for impromptu conversations and knowledge sharing across this pool of expertise compared with the recent virtual events.

Being a bit pre-occupied with presenting a paper and manning the Team Consulting stand I was not able to get to as many of the presentations as I’d have liked, but with all papers and posters available to view and download it was possible to catch-up afterwards, or even beforehand. Human Factors Engineering remained a constant thread throughout proceedings, as it has done for over a decade, and connectivity once again vied for joint billing. Both were joined this year by sustainability which was strongly to the fore as a hot topic of discussion. How these three themes combine and interact to influence the industry over the coming years will be very interesting to be part of.

photo of Andy, John, Alastair and Chris with devices on stand

Plus five hours and minus fifteen degrees centigrade east, a damp and grey Boston was the location for the 12th PODD conference. With ~650 delegates and over 70 table-top stands the conference felt to be significantly larger than the last time we attended in 2019 and there was a real buzz
about the place.

PODD’s key theme throughout is partnership and collaboration. As previously, the compact stands were set-up in a significantly smaller space than at PDA, resulting in a much more cosy exhibition environment. Although not ideal for those looking for continued social distancing, it was much more conducive to personal interaction with perhaps more emphasis on discussion than demonstration. Coupled with organised 1:1 partnering/networking sessions and seeded round table discussions over lunch, the focus was strongly on encouraging and facilitating conversations.

The multi-track conference programme was of similar scale to PDA but again with a different slant. Many of the talks were in the form of panel discussions and ‘fireside chats’ so you needed to be in the room to get the benefit of these. This helped ensure good attendance and there were some excellent, open conversations on themes ranging from payer perspectives and re-imbursement, the role of early-stage companies in accelerating novel drug delivery, and practical advice for successful partnering.

Overall the topics covered are broader at PODD, with much more content covering the drug product and therapy areas than was seen at PDA. There is also a broader range of device technologies presented including oral administration to deliver drugs via the stomach and intestine and methods to deliver through the blood/brain barrier. Three separate streams of seventeen 15-minute technology presentations in one afternoon requires impressive organisation and moderating skills but delivers a great deal of very interesting content.

photo of people sat in PODD conference

There is a bit less emphasis at PODD on presenting detailed research and data and a bit more attention on highlighting ideas and opportunities for collaboration. This will suit some more than others but I do find refreshing the clear recognition that we are all there with at least the partial objective, alongside the learnings and improving our understanding of industry challenges and trends, of finding ways to work with and benefit from each other. It is all about “Partnership Opportunities”, after all.

Content aside, whether you prefer one conference or the other may depend on the nature of your business and your style of working. Provisional dates for next year have them taking place in the same week, with PODD in Boston and PDA in Gothenburg, so attending the two of them will require some forward planning. For Team they are equally valuable and worthwhile and we hope to see our friends in the industry at both events in October 2023.

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