A reusable epinephrine autoinjector was developed internally at ITERATE to explore how sustainable design principles could be applied in the field of medical devices. Epinephrine autoinjectors are carried by those at risk of Anaphylaxis and are used to prevent a potentially life-threating reaction by delivering a prescribed dose of the drug epinephrine. Those at risk are advised to carry at least two injectors with them at all times in case one should fail. Commonly used epinephrine autoinjectors by brands such as EpiPen and Auvi-Q make use of advanced mechanisms for quick response, but nonetheless remain single-use products that must be disposed of after each individual use. Due to the relatively short lifetime of the product, we saw an opportunity to instead build sustainability into the product itself.
Taking into account the user’s perspective, we set ourselves the challenge of developing an epinephrine autoinjector that remained as safe, practical and easily-used as existing devices, but that also created less waste and could be more comfortably carried on-the-go. Given that the device would be used in a medical emergency, reliable performance and speed of deployment were fundamental product features. With this in mind, our core challenge was to devise a more sustainable yet equally effective epinephrine autoinjector. Beyond this, the design had to also allow for safe disposal after use or if the epinephrine expired.
“ITERATE provide a refreshing product design perspective and are ever conscious of pragmatic, efficient and intelligent design solutions” Richard Slade, Client Services Director at Brandrefinery
It was important to recognise that the drug component of the product would always remain single-use, but that the entire product did not have to be, this meant designing the device for disassembly. Our solution featured a modular design that would allow the product to be taken apart at its end of life-in-service. Given that the product would contain epinephrine, extra consideration ensured this disassembly process was safe. In our design, the part of the device holding the needle and syringe could be safely removed and disposed of, while the mechanical housing could be retained which would significantly minimise the material waste associated with each product. Aesthetically, we focussed on developing a product form that was as small and compact as possible for both transportability and usability.
We created a redesigned epinephrine autoinjector that was capable of performing effectively and was more sustainable than existing, single-use products. Our concept successfully illustrated that sustainable design principles can be used even within safety-critical medical devices and should be considered in every design. Through the product’s modularity and ability to be disassembled we were able to significantly reduce the volume of material that needed disposing of, all the while maintaining the safety and usability of the epinephrine autoinjector.
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