Do you have asthma or live with another respiratory condition? An awful lot of Britons do. Apparently, around 75 million inhalers are prescribed in the UK every year and as they are made from plastic that is a fairly significant environmental problem
But maybe not in the future for pharma company Chiesi has teamed up with two startups to encourage research into inhaler sustainability. The move has been backed by cash from Innovate UK – which is part of UK Research and Innovation, and is funded by the UK government
The companies are looking at ways to minimise or eliminate the use of plastic in pressurised metered dose inhalers (pMDI) through a potential redesign of the plastic ‘actuator’.
Harriet Lewis, head of public affairs at Chiesi UK, said: “At Chiesi, we believe protecting patient health and the environment should not be a matter of compromise.
“To this end, we have invested considerable time and resource in accelerating the development of carbon minimal technologies to treat respiratory conditions, as well as empowering patients to dispose of their inhalers in an environmentally safe manner.
“Initiating activity to scope alternatives to the current plastic use for all our inhalers is overdue and the start of an important journey for us and the wider pharmaceuticals sector.
“Millions of people rely on inhalers but currently they are a ‘throwaway’ item. Using our extensive human centred design experience to redesign the actuator so that it can be more environmentally friendly is the primary aim of this project.
“Winning this funding and support from Innovate UK is a huge opportunity for both us and Dsposal. Global inhaler use is on the rise and we need to find ways to minimise their impact for a greener future.”