HP’s printers turn into drugs pushers

HP has adapted its patented inkjet printing technology into a skin patch that could deliver new types of life-saving drugs to patients.

HP's printers turn into drugs pushers

The drugs patch was developed after researchers at HP Labs began exploring different applications for its inkjet technology. They decided to investigate the possibility of injecting drugs into patients, in the same way that printers inject ink on to the page.

“It’s a novel technology that relates to thermal drugs delivery,” says Charlie Chapman, director of intellectual property licensing at HP. “It’s an array of 90,000 tiny hypodermic needles per square inch that allows you to deliver drugs into the system. We took the [printer] technology and turned it on its head. Instead of creating nozzles we created needles.”

HP claims the technology will offer the ultimate in dosage control, with the patch able to deliver incredibly precise amounts of liquid. “There’s a number of tiny reservoirs of drugs, all of which are individually addressable,” says Chapman. “When heat is selectively applied to one of the reservoirs it swells and forces drugs out of the needle.”

HP says the patient won’t feel the heat on their skin, nor will they feel any pain from the needles, because they barely penetrate the skin. The device does require a power supply to control the heating element, however.

The patch could be used to deliver medicines to patients which were previously considered dangerous. “We’re lead to believe there are drugs treatments on the shelves that aren’t suitable for oral treatment,” Chapman claims. He says it could find applications in fertility treatment, pain management, and for the treatment of osteoporosis and diabetes.

HP is licensing the technology to Irish medical company, Crospon, which aims to bring the product to market.

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