A portfolio of biologic self-injection devices in rheumatology: how patient involvement in device design can improve treatment experience

Drug Deliv. 2019 Dec;26(1):384-392. doi: 10.1080/10717544.2019.1587043.


Biologic drugs (e.g. anti-tumor necrosis factors) are effective treatments for multiple chronic inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, axial spondyloarthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. Administration of biologic drugs is usually via subcutaneous self-injection, which provides many patient benefits compared to infusions including increased flexibility, reduced costs, and reduced caregiver burden. However, it is also associated with challenges such as needle phobia, patient treatment misconceptions and incorrect drug administration, and can be impacted by dexterity problems. Evidence suggests these problems, along with other drug administration challenges (e.g. patient forgetfulness, busy lifestyles, and polypharmacy), can reduce patient adherence to treatment. To combat these challenges, patient feedback has been used to develop a range of self-injection devices, including pre-filled syringes, pre-filled pens, and electronic injection devices. Providing different devices for drug administration gives patients the opportunity to choose a device that addresses the challenges they face as an individual. Research suggests involving patients in medical device development, providing patients with a choice of devices and enrolling individuals in patient support programs can empower patients to take control of their treatment journey. By providing a portfolio of self-injection devices, designed based on patient needs, patient experience will improve, potentially improving adherence and hence, long-term treatment outcomes.

Keywords: Anti-TNF; electronic injection device; pre-filled pen; pre-filled syringe; self-injection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antirheumatic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Biological Products / administration & dosage*
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Medication Adherence
  • Rheumatic Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Self Administration
  • Syringes


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Biological Products

Grants and funding

UCB funded the review and the development of the manuscript and reviewed the text to ensure that from the perspective of UCB, the data presented in the publication are scientifically, technically and medically supportable, that they do not contain any information that has the potential to damage the intellectual property of UCB, and that the publication complies with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines and good industry practice. The authors approved the final version to be published after critically revising the manuscript/publication for important intellectual content.