April 28, 2020

This post is the first of a multi-part series about pre-filled syringes. Find the second post in the series, ‘Overcome Common Pre-Filled Syringe Challenges through Partnership,’ here.

Syringes have been a mainstay of drug delivery for decades – but, as with many other aspects of healthcare, they have recently undergone something of a revolution.

The growth of biological medications, the ever-increasing focus on safety, and a shift from “doctor knows best” to “expert patient” attitudes have contributed to the growing popularity of pre-filled syringes (PFS).

To kick off our feature series on PFS, we look at five ways this device is improving patient outcomes just as much as the medicine it delivers.

AMRI PFS Line in Albuquerque, NM
AMRI’s PFS Line in Albuquerque, NM

1. Avoiding Dosing Errors

Dosing errors involving traditional syringes, both in the hospital or self-dosing settings are common.

One hospital-based study found that 22 percent of vial-prepared doses contained at least one error. Of these, two-thirds were classified as critical over- or under doses.

The same study found just four percent of pre-filled syringes resulted in a dosing error. None of these were classified as critical.

For people living with long-term health conditions who regularly inject themselves, preparing doses can be an arduous task with extensive scope for mistakes. Drawing up the wrong amount and not administering the full dose are just two examples of common dosing errors.

By providing patients with pre-filled syringes designed to meet their personal dosing requirements, drug manufacturers are also providing peace of mind.

2. Boosting Adherence

Between 40 and 50 percent of people with long-term health conditions are, in part, non-adherent to their medication dosing – contributing to at least 100,000 preventable deaths every year.

The reasons for non-compliance are as varied as they are complex, but needle phobia and pain frequently top the list of concerns among those self-injectors. PFS can help alleviate both.

Most PFS delivery systems are designed with retractable covers, meaning that patients do not see the needle before, during or after administration. The result is a reduction in the needle phobia that can reduce non-compliance.

3. Avoiding Needle Stick Injuries

Around 100,000 needle stick injuries (NSIs) are reported by workers in the UK’s NHS every year. In the US, that figure is 500,000. Each one of these NSIs can have life-changing consequences.

Most notably, they leave people open to the risk of blood-borne viruses such as HIV or hepatitis. And while the chance of contracting such an infection is low, the anxiety and distress caused by needle stick injuries is anything but.

PFS are self-contained units. They require less interaction and preparation than standard syringes and can be designed with a range of safety features.

Depending on the use case, PFS can feature plastic safety shields or automatic retraction systems that seal the needle inside the syringe as soon as it is withdrawn.

EU legislation on needle stick injuries, such as the EU directive 2010/32/EU, recommends that organizations eliminate the use of traditional needles where possible, implement safe procedures for the use and disposal of needles, including use of protective equipment, and introduce devices that incorporate safety-engineered protection mechanisms, such as PFS delivery. Such regulatory adherence could mean these traditional syringes soon become a thing of the past.

4. Delivering Highly Effective Medicines

Medical advances provide us with a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms of disease, leading to and more products designed to treat chronic conditions.

Much of this success has been due to the development of biologics, or drugs made from the components of living organisms. Delivering some of these products, which have changed the lives of people living with conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, would not be possible without PFS.

Medicines such as monoclonal antibodies cannot be taken orally as they have high enzymatic degradation profiles and poor gastroenterological penetration. Parenteral administration is the only option.

PFS, along with intravenous infusions, are essential to delivering the significant benefits of biological medicines.

5. Empowerment

“Doctor knows best” is a dying philosophy. It is widely accepted in modern healthcare that self-management is the key to success in treating long-term conditions.

According to think tank The Kings Fund, people who develop a firm understanding of how their condition affects them have a better quality of life. And an essential part of self-management is managing medications.

AMRI PFS Line in Albuquerque, NM
AMRI PFS Line in Albuquerque, NM

Thanks to PFS, many people can now take ownership of their drug schedule through self-administration. In doing so, they become an integral member of their own healthcare team.

PFS systems require little preparation, are easy to use and easy to carry around. They are usually designed with the product and the patient group in mind to ensure they can become a practical part of everyday life.

By replacing hospital appointments with a self-dosing schedule, they deliver care closer to home, freeing people up to spend their time on things that really matter to them.

PFS systems are an integral part of the process that helps people with long-term conditions stop feeling like patients – and get on with their lives.


AMRI offers comprehensive sterile dosage form development and manufacturing services including best-in-class prefilled syringe manufacturing capabilities. Our state-of-the-art prefilled syringe production lines utilize Restricted Access Barrier System (RABS) technology and other automation to ensure the highest level of sterility assurance and product yields for your valuable injectable medicine.

Learn more about our FDA-inspected, cGMP-compliant facility for clinical or commercial scale manufacturing today!

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