Skip to Content

Four-Cent Inhaler

Cheap device could replace syringes
January 1, 2007

Drugmakers are increasingly turning to inhalable versions of vaccines and drugs in order to avoid the hassle and danger of syringes. A new inhaler that costs only four cents could administer powdered drugs as effectively as traditional inhalers that cost 10 times as much. The technology, which uses no moving parts, could help poor countries stop relying on syringes, which cost pennies apiece but require trained staff and carry an infection risk. To make their inhaler cheaper, engineers at Cambridge Consultants of Cambridge, England, and Boston focused on its internal shape. When a user inhales, a kind of miniature tornado forms inside the device, lifting a powdered drug into the air. The company is in talks with pharmaceutical firms to test the device with a powdered flu vaccine, among other drugs. Though an inhaler is a fraction of the price of a vaccine dose (currently $3 to $7), the savings could make a difference. “Everyone in the field dreams of a future with these kinds of simple, low-cost vaccine delivery systems,” says Donald Francis, cofounder of Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases, a nonprofit vaccine developer. “Moving to a needle-free model is a goal most of us share.”

A prototype inhaler shown here lacks moving parts but delivers drugs effectively thanks to its internal shape.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

surgery
surgery

A gene-edited pig’s heart has been transplanted into a human for the first time

The procedure is a one-off, and highly experimental, but the technique could help reduce transplant waiting lists in the future.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

2021 tech fails concept
2021 tech fails concept

The worst technology of 2021

Face filters, billionaires in space, and home-buying algorithms that overpay all made our annual list of technology gone wrong.

Woman using Virtual Reality headset at night
Woman using Virtual Reality headset at night

The metaverse has a groping problem already

A woman was sexually harassed on Meta’s VR social media platform. She’s not the first—and won’t be the last.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.