Smart inhalers are specifically designed to treat respiratory disorders such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). They are equipped with a digital sensor that tracks the data like dosage timing, monitors the usage of the inhaler, and schedules alerts for the next dosage. The data is then shared through Bluetooth with the healthcare professionals and patients to track their usage.
The escalating prevalence of respiratory diseases like COPD, chronic bronchitis, and asthma are driving the demand for various treatments and medical devices. In the last few decades, the global market has witnessed a significant rise in the number of tobacco smokers and air pollution in developed and developing economies across the globe. According to the WHO, about 235 million people are living with asthma, and over 80% of asthma-related deaths occur in low-middle income countries annually. In addition to this, the prevalence of COPD is expected to upsurge in the coming years due to higher smoking prevalence and rising aging populations in several countries. It is also observed that the healthcare professionals, especially in developed regions, are more inclined to adopt smart inhalers, for the direct delivery of drugs to the respiratory tract of the patients.
The general respiratory inhalers available at present are insufficient for the efficient treatment of various respiratory disorders as physicians often lack the information and tools to understand the health status of patients. This situation suggests that rather than providing better medicines, smart inhalers deliver novel ways of delivering and activating patient self-management. For instance, the Bluetooth wireless technology-enabled ‘Hailie medication sensors’ wrap around the existing inhalers and automatically sends usage data to their smartphone. Connected inhalers benefit from the miniaturization of flow sensors to evaluate the volume of the medication inhaled. Also, Sensiron has developed the smallest, digitalized, and fully calibrated differential pressure sensor that can be incorporated into smart inhalers. Miniaturization also enables the development of the systems making them more user-friendly. Furthermore, increasing usage of smartphones is expected to upsurge the overall adoption of mobile health applications by patients and healthcare providers. The opportunity for technological innovation to reduce errors by measuring patient inhalation airflow through the inhaler device is already available in the market, which increases drug delivery efficacy, improves medication adherence, reduces healthcare costs and improves the overall clinical outcome.
The treatment cost associated with respiratory disorders is considered as the major issue for payers, patients, and prescribers. Presently, prominent respiratory pharmaceutical and digital health companies are forming strategic partnerships in order to develop new technologies and pave for innovation in digital healthcare as well as reduce the burden. Smart inhalers are introduced as a novel approach to promote adherence by monitoring medication usage based on respiratory disorders. The market is also offering an opportunity for smart inhalers to improve outcomes and reduce treatment costs. In clinical studies, around 80% adherence to preventive medication has been observed amongst asthma patients using smart inhalers with nearly 61% drop in usage of oral steroids. This could significantly reduce the treatment cost of respiratory diseases.
Digital technology has opened the door to health care providers to enhance asthma and COPD diagnosis and management. AI utilizes algorithms and software to interpret complex medical data, eliminating the need for human intervention. In addition, IoT-based automated inhalers help clients monitor their condition, understand dose estimation, and avoid subsequent breathing attacks. The automated dose inhalers with sensors help minimize emergency visits to reduce risks and improve patient outcomes. For instance, AsthmaAI is an Artificial Intelligence system created by FindAir to support users in data analysis and decision making. It uses data gathered by the FindAir monitoring system, which is processed by a number of methods in the field of machine learning and statistical analysis. The aim of the system is to identify the factor triggering asthma attacks and real-time predictions of asthma and COPD exacerbations. This rise in the integration of AI and IoT is expected to have a positive impact on market growth in the years to come.
Government initiatives, such as the introduction of Fixed Dose Combination (FDC) by the USFDA, increasing adoption of generic drugs, and the growing demand for digital health platforms are some of the crucial factors influencing the rapid uptake of these digital inhalers.
The global smart inhalers market is segmented into product, application, and distribution channels.
The product segment is bifurcated into dry powder inhalers and meter dose inhalers (MDI). The dry powder inhaler (DPI) segment is projected to witness lucrative growth because of the growing prevalence of chronic respiratory diseases like COPD and asthma coupled with the growing demand for technology-enabled respiratory devices. Health risks associated with the incidence of drug irritation induced by the presence of propellant elements, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in meter dose inhalers have bolstered the use of DPIs. Today, many healthcare providers are increasingly using DPIs and DPI based smart inhalers. In line with this, several leading players have introduced their devices to the market. Recently, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries has launched its new digital dry powder inhaler, ‘ProAir Digihaler’ with built-in sensors. Also, in August 2017, Propeller Health, a leading digital solution provider for respiratory medicine, expanded its collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline to develop a clip-on sensor and software platform for the ELLIPTA DPI Inhaler, a smart inhaler generally used for COPD treatment.
For better understanding, we have segmental the applications into asthma, COPD, and others. The prevalence of asthma has significantly increased in the last few years on account of rising levels of pollution, growing exposer to athama causing substances like pollen and lack of physical activities. As per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 24 million people in the U.S. are affected by asthma and the country witnesses more than 3,600 death every year. To tap the lucrative opportunity, several players are investing heavily in R&D activities to develop advanced or smart inhalers for effectively treating asthma. FindAir is the first commercially available smart inhaler solution in Europe. It was developed in cooperation with some of the leading respiratory specialists in Poland.
The hospital pharmacies segment is projected to lead the market on account of affiliation with hospitals treating the respiratory diseases. Furthermore, it enables easy accessibility to patients as they supply time-sensitive medicines for critical respiratory care. They also allow hospitals to provide quality medicines to the patient by purchasing directly from drug manufacturers, thus, avoiding the problem of counterfeit medicines. The aforementioned factors will heighten the smart inhaler accessibility in hospital pharmacies, thereby, promoting the segmental evolution.
North America is projected to dominate the global smart inhaler market during the forecast period. This can be attributed to the rising number of research and development programs and growing awareness regarding advanced respiratory inhalers. Moreover, a considerable surge in the prevalence of respiratory conditions amongst the pediatric and aging populations will further boost the market growth. As per the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), around 10 Americans die from asthma every day and more than 25 million Americans have asthma, which is 7.7 % of adults and 8.4% of children. According to the statistics reported by the CDC, 1 in 13 people have asthma.
The upsurge in the incidence of respiratory disorders is majorly contributing to the growth of the European market. In addition to this, the growing focus of physicians and patients on advanced or novel respiratory devices is directly impacting the demand for smart inhalers. It has been observed that a large pool of patients is increasingly demanding for effective treatment procedures and the quality of drugs.
The Asia Pacific market is expected to witness the fastest growth over the forecast period. This can be attributed to improving healthcare infrastructure, rising patient awareness, and increasing disposable income. Apart from this, growing medical tourism in several Asian countries is also gaining the attention of leading global players to set up their plants and expand operations in these economies. Japan and China are the key hubs for the respiratory devices vertical. Advancing demand for innovative respiratory care devices, increasing geriatric population burden, an upward shift in the aggregate healthcare expenditure, and the rapidly transforming the healthcare sector are among the crucial factors that are expected to play a crucial role in the growth of the smart inhalers market.
Asthma, COPD, respiratory allergies, and occupational lung diseases are some of the key public health concerns in the Middle East and African countries as a huge number of people are suffering from preventable chronic respiratory diseases (CRD) and respiratory allergies in this region. For instance, about 60 million people in the Middle East are at the risk of developing respiratory illness diseases. South Africa ranks 25th and 5th worldwide for asthma and asthma mortality, respectively, resulting in 18.5 deaths per 100,000 asthma cases. This has upsurged the demand for early diagnosis, which, in turn, will eventually impact on the sales of the respiratory devices.
With each passing day, different market players are including digital technologies in their product portfolio to effectively manage asthma and COPD as well as improve the effectiveness of the medication. For instance, in September 2017, Adherium received the USFDA approval for its novel SmartTouch for Symbicort inhaler monitoring device for AstraZeneca’s Symbicort aerosol inhaler. The market is consolidated with the presence of Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd., Vectura Group plc, AstraZeneca plc, Propeller Health, Adherium Limited, GlaxoSmithKline plc, Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, Cohero Health LLC, OPKO Health Inc., and Novartis AG.
The above-mentioned players are adopting different growth strategies like collaborations, marketing campaigns, and the launch of new products to expand their market reach and share. In February 2017, Propeller Health collaborated with Novartis to advance a custom add-on sensor for the Breezhaler inhaler. The partnership would aid in introducing smart inhalers to the market.