Close up shot pharmacist holding nasal spray medicine at the drugstore

Trending Therapeutics: Intranasal Drug Transport of Dry Powder Formulations Emerging as Big Pharma’s New Patient-First Paradigm

In the evolving world of pharmaceuticals, a quiet revolution is underway. The age-old methods of drug delivery—pills that must pass through the digestive system and injections that pierce the skin—are being challenged by a groundbreaking alternative: nasal drug delivery. This method, particularly in its dry powder form, is setting new standards in patient comfort, precision dosing and rapid response—including emergency scenarios.  In addition, dry powder nasal formulations have the potential to extend the shelf life of expensive medicines while protecting  them from heat.   

These advancements in nasal drug delivery are so significant that the global intranasal drug delivery devices market was valued at USD 1.49 billion in 2022 and is predicted to reach a staggering USD 5.26 billion by 2032. According to the report, some of the crucial factors accountable for this extreme market growth are increasing patient preference for nasal drug delivery as a result of easy administration and better efficacy; the growing adoption of self-administration practices; and patent expiration of popular drugs correlated with increased cases of conditions like cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Other reports underscore the efficacy advantages driving the growth of intranasal drug transport market, citing “the non-invasive nature of this route of delivery and the reality that drug absorbability is higher through the nasal route… the nasal path gives less antagonistic surroundings in comparison to the gastro-intestinal course; this permits higher absorption of drugs.”

Traditional Methods and Their Limitations

Historically, pills and injections have been the mainstays of drug delivery. However, these methods come with limitations. Pills undergo first-pass metabolism, potentially reducing efficacy, while injections can cause discomfort and needle phobia. In emergencies, the slow onset of action and the complexity of devices like EpiPens further complicate the situation. Recalls, heat instability, and short shelf lives add to the challenges. These limitations underscore the need for a more patient-friendly and pharmacoeconomic solution.

Nasal Drug Delivery: A Leap Forward

Enter nasal drug delivery, particularly the dry powder form, which offers a suite of advantages. “The precision of dosing and faster onset of action with dry powder is a game-changer for emergency use medicines,” explains Scott Lyman, CEO of Belhaven Biopharma —itself a company developing a pipeline of emergency use dry powder nasal products to better address the needs of patients and caregivers across a wide range of diseases. “It eliminates the inconsistencies we see with liquid formulations that depend heavily on patient participation and positioning. Unlike liquid nasal sprays, dry powder is effective even when patients have runny noses—a condition affecting as many as 50% of patients.”

Rapid, Painless, Easy and Safe

Two of the most significant advantages of nasal drug delivery is its rapid onset of action and the painless administration. “We’re looking at a method that works faster than traditional methods like intramuscular injections and autoinjectors, providing immediate therapeutic drug levels,” Lyman added. “Moreover, its painless administration is a relief for patients with needle phobia. The patient doesn’t even notice it’s happening, making it a stress-free experience.”

Ease of use is another key benefit. “Emerging dry powder nasal delivery system innovations are designing better products for emergency use. Those that are easy to administer on-demand, safer and independent of the patient’s body position. Plus, the compact size of intranasal medicines makes them easier to carry than an EpiPen, for example, and they do not require active participation from the patient, making this delivery method ideal for crisis situations.”

Market Growth and Opportunities

The market for nasal delivery of emergency use medications is on the rise—particularly in the asthma category. Big Pharma successes like Emergent Biosciences’ Narcan and Lilly’s Baqsimi exemplify the growing comfort and preference among doctors and patients for nasal delivery medicines. Survey results from the Asthma & Allergy Network reveal a significant preference for needle-free products, with 82% of respondents favoring a non-injection alternative. Furthermore, 80% expressed a preference for a palm-sized device, emphasizing the importance of portability and ease of use.

Beyond Convenience: Addressing Global Needs

The impact of nasal drug delivery extends beyond convenience and comfort. “We have an opportunity to introduce lifesaving medications like epinephrine to underserved populations in the developing world,” Lyman points out. The heat stability and longer shelf life make dry powder formulations ideal for global distribution, particularly in areas where traditional methods are impractical.

The shift towards nasal drug delivery, especially in its dry powder form, represents a significant step towards more patient-centric healthcare. Its painless administration, precise dosing, rapid action and ease of use not only enhance the quality of life for patients but also promise to broaden access to vital medications worldwide. As this technology continues to evolve, it stands poised to upend antiquated methods, offering a glimpse into a future where drug delivery is as patient-friendly as it is effective.