EPISODE 2: View On Manufacturing Inhaled Drug Products


What If the Jab Were a Puff? A Look at Drug Delivery to the Lungs

In this episode we explore the advantages of using inhalers for drug delivery with Lonza experts Kim Shepard and Matt Ferguson.

In late 2022, China introduced the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine to be inhaled into the lungs. The Chinese scientists who developed the vaccine tout its ability to directly stimu-late the immune system’s first line of defence – the lungs’ mucous membrane. However, vaccines are just the tip of the inhaler iceberg. While we all are familiar with metered-dose inhalers, as well as nebulizers, for asthma, a whole range of therapeutic options for many diseases are becoming available through the technology known as dry-powder in-halers, or DPI.

While the first commercially available DPIs appeared in the seventies, recent advances have opened the door to treatments for diabetes and even cancer. As with the Covid-19 vaccine, direct delivery to the lungs can be more efficient, but it also has the advantage of lowering toxicity by bypassing the liver altogether. Still, getting the correct amount of the molecule to the right part of the lung without unwanted immune responses is tricky business. Recently developed manufacturing techniques and new types of molecules make drug inhalers a continually evolving field full of potential advantages for patients.

Curious to Know More?

Listen to this episode of A View On, Manufacturing Inhaled Drug Products to learn more about what it takes to develop effective treatments with insights from Lonza’s Associate Director, R&D, Kim Shepard and Matt Ferguson, Lonza’s Head of Respiratory Drug De-livery.


Inhalers are medical devices that deliver drugs to the lungs and take three principal forms: Nebulizers, which get their name from using a liquid mist, or nebula, to transport the drug to the lungs via liquid aerosol; . Metered dose inhalers are portable devices which use a propellant to administer a “puff” of drug to the lungs. Dry-powder inhalers use a dry powder that is driven by a patient’s own breath into the lungs with a sharp inhalation.

Excipients are substances that accompany the active pharmaceutical ingredient in drug delivery. For DPIs, they can be used to modify the density and shape of the powder’s molecules for more precise delivery as well as to improve stability and shelf life.

Spray-drying is a technique to engineer the shape and size of particles by dissolving the drug and excipients in a solvent and then converting the solution to a powder. In DPI manufacturing, spray-drying is a superior method to milling a molecule because it creates a specifically designed aerodynamic shape that is conducive to getting the molecule deeper into the lungs.

A granuloma is an inflamed area of the lung that is part of its natural immune defence and can be an unwanted reaction to administering a drug through inhalation. Proper drug formulation through computer modelling and toxicity studies, along with novel tech-niques such as spray-drying, can greatly improve a patient’s chances of avoiding granulo-mas and other unwanted immune responses.

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