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Pfizer and the Institute of Pediatric Innovation (IPI) issued an open innovation challenge to source ideas for a package and dispensing device that would help administer medicines more easily to children. The winning design team will be announced in August 2016 and awarded a seed grant toward the development of the device. The team will be able to retain all intellectual property related to any inventive aspects of its device.
The Open Innovation Challenge was created to address the multiple barriers to properly administering medicines to children, particularly in low-resource settings. Many widely-used therapies are not produced in child-friendly formulations. Solid tablets, for example, can be hard for children to swallow. As a result, clinicians, pharmacists and caregivers frequently need to crush tablets and add the powders to liquids or foods, which can cause improper dosing or undesired reactions.
Although liquids can be easily swallowed, they typically contain sugars and other artificial flavors to mask the taste of the active pharmaceutical ingredient and may be made with preservatives to ensure they last. Liquids sometimes need to be refrigerated and often require access to a potable water source, making it particularly difficult to distribute and administer them to children in low-resource countries. While liquid formulations have some advantages, they also have significant limitations.
Multiparticulates, which could be beads or microspheres, offer an important alternative that could help ease the administration of pediatric therapies. Properly dosing multiparticulates has the potential to offer personalized or precision medicine for each child. The multiparticulate formulation combines the advantages of both liquid and solid formulations – high dose flexibility and ease of administration.
The winning package and dispensing device will build on a platform developed by Pfizer. It is based upon a technology for formulating oral multiparticulate medicines into a tasteless, stable, dispersible powder that can be readily mixed with liquids or foods.
With this seed grant, Pfizer is interested in making the technology more broadly available so that it can be applied to development of pediatric medicines for distribution in low-resource settings as well as in developed countries.