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U.S. Patent Granted for Simple Dry-Powder Drug Inhaler

XCaps dry-powder inhaler

XCaps dry-powder inhaler (Hovione International)

7 April 2014. Medical device manufacturer Hovione International in Lisbon, Portugal, received a patent for its inhaler for administering respiratory drugs in dry powder form. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded patent 8,677,992 on 25 March to three inventors and assigned to Hovione International. Among the inventors is Peter Villax, the company’s vice-president for innovation.

Dry-powder inhalers are used by people with asthma, COPD, and other respiratory disorders that make it possible for them to take the drug compound directly into the lungs. The force needed to inhale the drugs is generated by the user who breathes in through the inhaler, which releases the fine powder into the lungs. Some dry-powder inhalers have the drugs preloaded, while others, like the design patented by Hovione, require the user to add the drugs.

The Hovione device, which it markets under the brand-name XCaps, can be configured for inhalation through the nose or mouth. The inhaler has two components: a sliding tray that holds a capsule with a pre-measured dose of the dry-powder medication, and an outer body with an attached inhalation tube.

Blades to cut open the powder capsule are fitted on the walls of the outer body. The user loads a capsule into the sliding tray, and pushes the tray into the inhaler body, where the blades open the capsule. The individual then breathes the medication through the inhalation passage. The tray slides out to dispose of the empty capsule.

Hovione says the XCaps device works with both lactose-based and engineered-particle powders. The company also provides formulation services to prepare medications for dry-powder inhalers. Patents for the device have already been awarded in Europe, Canada, South Africa, and three Asian countries.

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