Norton Healthcare Ltd for the Easi-Breathe inhaler
Norton's Easi-Breathe is a novel breath-activated inhaler for the treatment of asthma. Asthma is a serious respiratory disorder that causes inflammation of the airways of the lungs and restricts a person's ability to breathe. The disease affects over 2 million people and causes over 2000 deaths each year in the UK alone.
Asthma is most commonly treated using 'press and breathe' inhalers that deliver drugs directly to the lungs. These devices rely on the user coordinating the 'press' and 'breathe' technique and getting the timing right so that the drug reaches the affected parts of the lungs. Studies indicate that 75% of people with these devices cannot use them correctly which can result in ineffective treatment and lack of control of the disease. Elderly and young patients have particular difficulty with these devices.
Norton Healthcare took up the challenge of finding a successful solution to this problem. The result was the Easi-Breathe device: a new type of inhaler that automatically releases a measured dose of the asthma drug when the patient inhales.
The device uses an innovative but very simple mechanism: when the patient inhales a vacuum is released which activates a compression spring, and the spring in turn triggers the release of the required dose of the drug. As the device is activated by the patient breathing in, the drug is delivered at exactly the right time for it to reach the lungs most effectively.
This patient-friendly device looks very similar to other conventional inhalers and has been designed to be used with existing types of asthma drugs. Norton has licensed the device to Glaxo Wellcome who manufacture half the world's portable inhalers.