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Sustainability in drug delivery: A green future without compromising safety and efficacy


*Corresponding author
PA Consulting Group, Global Innovation and Technology Centre Back Lane, Melbourn, United Kingdom


The use of medical devices such as needles, syringes, and inhalers for drug delivery is a well-established and vital part of the worldwide healthcare strategy. Traditionally such drug delivery routes have relied upon single-use plastics and high carbon footprint hydrofluoroalkanes (HFAs) to achieve effective and safe delivery to the user. In this article we outline design approaches that can be taken to develop sustainable drug delivery devices. Those include efficient device design to minimise waste, smart labels and instructions, modular packaging and smart supply-chains..


Every day 14,000 tons of medical waste are generated at healthcare facilities across the US alone. Up to 20-25% of this waste can be attributed to plastic packaging and plastic products (1). Increasingly there are movements towards sustainable packaging solutions in the consumer sector, but can such movements translate to the medical sector without compromising safety, efficacy and sterility of life-saving therapeutics?


Here we consider approaches to improve drug delivery device/packaging sustainability including designs to minimise carbon footprint and clinical waste.


  • Single use drug delivery devices can be designed to keep contaminated parts separate to maximise reusability and recyclability 
  • Paper waste can be reduced to some extent while improving user/marketing experience by switching from insert instructions/marketing materials to smart-labels and augmented reality instructions 
  • Packaging waste can be reduced by switching to modular packaging ...

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