If you have moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you may have found self-injecting your medication to be a particularly frustrating and painful experience. And it’s easy to see why you might feel that way: As with many of your fellow RA patients, you may suffer from reduced manual dexterity. As a result, it can be challenging for you to follow some of the steps that are required when using an autoinjector — such as pressing the activation button that actually delivers the drug. In addition to this, the outer diameter of an autoinjector can be small, making a firm grip harder for you to maintain when it comes time to self-inject.
A recent breakthrough in design has aimed to alleviate this problem. The team at Noble, a Florida-based company dedicated to improving injection experiences for patients by designing training devices and solutions, realized that patients were likely to prefer using a larger, ergonomic grip to self-inject, as it’s easier for RA patients who typically have lower dexterity. This has led to the idea for a molded soft-touch sleeve that can provide a better grip and eliminate the need for you and other patients to press the autoinjector’s activation button.
Soliciting feedback from prospective patients played a large role in guiding the conception and design of the soft-touch sleeve. In fact, inspiration for the sleeve was two-fold: first, from the understanding that RA patients find that if an injection device were easier to grip, the task of self-administering their medication could be made less challenging, and secondly, from previous third-party study findings. In addition to collecting feedback from patients, a significant amount of human factors testing was also performed, including studies that were essential in understanding how RA patients would use the sleeve when self-injecting to ensure the sleeve answered the challenges created by patients’ lower dexterity.
There was even more evidence that such a soft-touch sleeve would be beneficial. According to a multinational survey of 200 RA patients and 100 nurses, easy grip and ease of performing self-injections were the two most critical attributes identified by both groups. Injecting without having to push a button was clearly important for many patients with RA.
Use of the soft-touch sleeve was designed to be as simple as possible. You simply insert the sleeve onto the top of an autoinjector and twist the sleeve to attach it and lock it in place. When your injection is complete, you simply twist it in the opposite direction to remove it.
A key feature of the sleeve is its identity as an accessory rather than as an inseparable part of the autoinjector. The reason for this is clear: it allows you to save the sleeve and reuse it multiple times, even while you dispose of the autoinjector itself following the self-injection process.
To date, Noble has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from RA patients regarding the sleeve. These patients have commented that using the sleeve with their injection device is more comfortable and provides a better grip when self-injecting than was ever possible before.
Introduced into various markets in early 2019, the sleeve will continue to launch in additional global markets in the years to come. In the future, the sleeve may be available for the specific autoinjector that you use, making self-injection a relatively more comfortable experience.
Josh Hopkins, Program Manager, is responsible for design, engineering and development of regulated and non-regulated medical devices at Noble. Josh holds a Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering and a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Florida.