Drug delivery success stories

Did you know that

History of drug delivery originates from mid 19th century with an invention of a syringe. This invention is an example of a so called “disruptive innovation”, because the syringe allowed to administer drugs intravenously, and, if you did not know, an intravenous administration gives the best bioavailability of drugs, i.e. par excellence [the best of the best]. Invention of a syringe has therefore opened a new era in i.v. administration of drugs. As far as I remember, drug delivery itself has never been a hype in drug development, although it was successfully incorporated several times as a key technology for design of novel [hype] products.

To not be empty-worded, I have brought you some good examples.


Success story 1: Abraxane


It is basically a suspension of paclitaxel where particles are covered by human albumin. The use of albumin is a very elegant solution of the transportation problem: usually every drug, after being administered intravenously (i.v.), naturally tries to connect to albumin, as is it the most universal transport protein in the body. Moreover, this innovation enabled to replace a solvent called Cremophor that is way more toxic compared to donor’s own albumin.

Indications: Breast cancer, pancreas cancer, NSCLC

Annual sales: more than $1b (http://ir.celgene.com/releasedetail.cfm?releaseid=952157)

Zest: replace Cremophor.


Success story 2: Caelyx/Doxil


Doxil is a liposomal doxorubicin providing a slow release of a drug in the blood after an i.v. injection. Liposomes of Doxil are quite stable thanks to a special technology that hides liposomes from immune system (Stealth technology), and it takes a while for their destruction in the body, which made Doxil less toxic compared to standard doxorubicin. Well, this was enough to successfully market a new approach.

Indications: Ovarian cancer, myeloma

Annual sales: more than $240m (http://www.evaluategroup.com/View/12704–1002-modData/product/doxil)

Zest: To make stable liposomes.


Success story 3: SA-033 and BeloGal


BeloGal is a new revolutionary self-navigating drug delivery system. Compared to other drug delivery systems it is a targeted drug delivery that sends doxorubicin directly to the liver without harming healthy organs and tissues. Administration route here is also intravenous, and the formulation makes sure that the active substance gets bioavailable only in the diseased organ.

Indications: Primary liver cancer (HCC, hepatoblastoma), secondary cancers in liver

Annual sales (expected): ca $4.5b

Zest: To target doxorubicin to the liver.


Success story 4: Temodex


Temodex is currently the best drug delivery for administration of temozolomide into the brain. Temodex is applied locally (intracranially) after removal of tumor, and there is currently no better ways for application of drugs into brain. Healthy organs are not exposed to the action of temozolomide, because the drug works locally.

Indications: Primary brain cancer, secondary cancers in brain

Annual sales (expected): ca $400m

Zest: To put a drug directly into tumor cavity during surgery.


This isn’t it

Obviously, the success stories 3 and 4 are not yet complete, and it will take some time to get these products through the pipeline. But these two stories will most likely be the most exciting chapters in development of drug delivery systems.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: