Respiratory illnesses are counted among the fastest-growing diseases worldwide. In industrialized countries they can be treated effectively, but in developing countries there is still a lot of potential for improvement.
Respiratory illnesses such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis or cystic fibrosis are among the fastest-growing diseases worldwide. Advanced industrialized countries have the necessary health care systems in place to allow these diseases to be effectively treated using various forms of therapy. But it’s a different story in developing and third-world countries, where health care provision must overcome major obstacles to make treatment both effective and affordable enough to be within reach of the wider population. This situation also presents opportunities for the pharmaceutical industry.
In Asia, respiratory illnesses are the most prevalent conditions alongside cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In 2012 there were some 30 million asthma sufferers and more than 40 million people with a COPD. Just ten years ago, less than 20 million people suffered from asthma – so the annual average increase was 4 percent. In the case of COPD, numbers are rising by 6 percent each year. These figures imply that over 5 percent of China’s population (1.3 billion in 2012) suffers from one of the two diseases. Each year, 2.75 million people worldwide die as result of COPD, 70 percent of them in India and China only.
Causes for the rapid rise in respiratory illnesses
Many factors are contributing to the dramatic increase in asthma, COPD and other respiratory illnesses around the world and especially in Asia. One of them is explosive population growth in Asia’s major cities. Together with record levels of motorization of road traffic and a rapid expansion in manufacturing industry, this drastic growth is driving an increase in air pollution, which in turn is leading to respiratory illnesses in people. The problem is particularly acute for the over-60s and children under 14.
A further factor is high rates of cigarette smoking. In China alone, there are more than 350 million regular smokers – and this does not even include the effects of passive smoking. Meanwhile in rural regions, where homes rely on wood, gas or kerosene stoves for cooking, inadequate ventilation leaves people permanently exposed to toxic smoke.
The market for inhaler products
The market for inhaler products is expanding rapidly in line with growing demand for medication. In China, total sales of the relevant products for asthma and COPD in 2011 grew by around 20 percent year on year to reach roughly 1.2 billion euros. Locally available inhalation technologies – dry powder inhalers (DPI), nebulizers, and metered dose inhalers (MDI) – have a share of some 60 percent, whereas oral forms of therapy and injections account for around 40 percent. China imports over 90 percent of dry powder inhalers.
Passive dry powder inhalers (DPI) are available either in multiple-dose dispensers or in single doses, with the powder filled into individual capsules as the transport medium. From the consumer’s standpoint, this smaller-scale capsule approach brings down purchase costs. Low-income patients who cannot afford an inhaler with 60 doses are forced to plan on a dose-by-dose basis, since financial concerns mean other basic needs – such as eating and drinking – have greater priority. This explains why the use of single doses is particularly widespread in developing and third-world countries. And this high demand for powder capsules in single doses is something that Bosch, with its many years of experience, can help to meet thanks to its fully automatic capsule fillers for micro-dosing.
Bosch micro-dosing technology
For passive dry powder inhalers (DPI), Bosch offers reliable filling technology based on the vacuum dosing roller for processing highly active inhaler products in the filling range of 2 to 30 milligrams (micro-dosing). Especially for highly active substances, which are administered via inhalation and require exact dosages, it is crucial to be able to fill even the smallest doses precisely and without agglomeration (clumping of the powder). Bosch’s modular, flexible filling station can handle even difficult-to-fill products because it can be readjusted without having to remove the filling cylinder. The patented, adjustable dosing roller offers plenty of flexibility in the filling process. And the low number of format parts makes it much quicker and easier to reconfigure the machine for a different product. Automated capsule filling achieves production output in the range of 3,000 to 150,000 capsules per hour.
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