New inhaler helps COPD patients to breathe

A collaboration between German drug company Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) and packaging company RPC Formatec could bring relief to sufferers of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The two companies have worked together to develop and produce an innovative inhalation device to deliver Spiriva (tiotropium), BI's inhalable powder that relieves COPD symptoms.

The HandiHaler is used to provide safe and accurate doses of the drug. Due to the nature of COPD, it is vital that the device is kept clear of dust and other particles in the air that would cause discomfort if inhaled. The HandiHaler therefore incorporates a system of eight injection moulded parts that are both lockable to protect against contamination, and removable to provide easy, user-friendly cleaning.

To use the device, the cap and mouthpiece are unlocked and removed, and a powder capsule inserted into the housing chamber. Once the mouthpiece is locked back into place, the user presses the green function knob to perforate the capsule and allow inhalation. After use, the mouthpiece can be unlocked again to clear the inside of product residues. The housing and function components can also be detached for cleaning, which requires only warm water.

The HandiHaler is manufactured in ABS using specially developed tools. Decoration and lettering are added by laser printer.

'For the safety of the user, every detail of the HandiHaler needed to be perfect before the device could go into production,' said Klaus Molzberger of RPC Formatec. 'The level of co-operation ensured that even complex problems were resolved and decided upon quickly and flexibly.'