Med Device Monday: Needle-Free Shots

You read that correctly. 

Hypodermic medicine is hardly a new practice, dating back as early as the ancient Greeks and Romans, Homer, and the Old Testament. Wikipedia has an interesting history of hypodermic treatments. It's Wikipedia, so take it with a grain of salt, but the London Science Museum touches on some of it as well. In short, the traditional syringe and hypodermic needle combo as we know it today began with more scientific exploration in the 17th century, leading up to the invention of disposable plastic syringes in 1956. Not a whole lot has changed since then. That is, of course, until recently. 

 Photo from wikipedia.com.

Photo from wikipedia.com.

PharmaJet is (you guessed it!) a needle-free shot. There are multiple benefits of and implications for eliminating needles, including reducing the risk of accidental sticks–and associated cost in time and money that follow-up and testing may require–and reducing the risk of needle reuse and cross contamination. It's pretty incredible to think that all of those benefits can happen while also having a real positive human impact on the patient side.

 Screenshot from PharmaJet.com.

Screenshot from PharmaJet.com.

That's because PharmaJet not only eliminates the need for needles (and thus the dangers associated with them), but it also has the potential to ease nerves for patients with a fear of needles. PharmaJet says: "Trypanophobia, fear of needles, also known as needle phobia, is the extreme fear of medical procedures involving injections or hypodermic needles. It is a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders recognized phobia affecting approximately 50 million Americans, making it a top-ten American fear." As you can imagine, this phobia of a medical device is not just a concern for the mental health implications: it has a real impact on the treatment that people receive. Again per PharmaJet: "...out of the 60 percent of American adults who choose not to receive a flu vaccination, 23 percent stated the reason is a fear of needles. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year as much as 20% of Americans fall victim to influenze and flu-related complications, resulting in approximately 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths. However, even in the face of such overwhelming statistics, sufferers of needle phobia will abstain from the flu vaccination." 

Testimonials on the company's site and videos on their YouTube channel also show that patients report a more comfortable overall experience, in addition to the needle-free option being more enticing from the start. They report that one consumer said, "Last year, I did not get a flu shot. I saw the sign on the front door of the store offering Needle-Free, and asked at the pharmacy." 

A win for patients, healthcare professionals, and public health alike? This might be the unicorn of medical devices...minus the whole pointy, sharp part.