Hit the Road, Needles: Needle Free Technology for Injections
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to administer medication, and vaccinations without a needle? I was surprised to learn that this technology exists, and is championed by the WHO, CDC and other organizations doing work in developing countries where massive vaccination programs exist.1 Needle free injection technology (NFIT) offers a novel method of delivering medicine to intradermal, subcutaneous, and intramuscular tissues without physically damaging the integrity of the skin.1 This technology offers a way to almost eliminate the need for hypodermic needles in many scenarios.
No More Needle Phobia
Hypodermic needles are extremely effective at delivering medication to various tissues at different tissue levels. However, needles present certain disadvantages, which are inherent in their use. One common disadvantage is patient fear and anxiety associated with either the pain of injection, or frank phobia of needles. Safety and unintentional pathogen transfer and subsequent infection is also a constant concern and accounts for a major danger to health care workers, especially in high volume injection scenarios. NFIT addresses both of these concerns by eliminating the use of needles.
There are numerous methods and mechanisms being used to deliver medications without the use of needles. NFIT can be categorized based on delivery type, drug administration (type of load), site administration, and delivery mechanism. Some types of delivery systems include the use of springs, gas cartridges (CO2), and laser technology. Both liquid and powder medications can be used. Iontophoresis, a common physical therapy tool for administering mineral salts to heal tissue is included in the range of NFIT categories.
How it Works
The general idea, and basic mechanism of all delivery types is the creation of a fine stream of pressurized material that is able to penetrate to various depths. Major considerations with specific delivery mechanism is duration which pressure may be maintained over multiple uses (springs lose integrity, gas runs out, and so on). This may be a valuable tool to not only in high volume vaccination settings, but also settings in which patient comfort is of paramount value, and reducing anxiety is needed.
- Ravi AD, Sadhna D, Nagpaal D, Chawla L. Needle free injection technology: A complete insight. Int J Pharm Investig. 2015;5(4):192-9.
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Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine amongst the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend campout where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.