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HP Technology

HP's Inkjet Technology Used to Administer Drugs 113

jedrick conner writes "Hewlett-Packard's microneedle technology, used in its inkjet cartridges, could soon be used in transdermal patches to deliver a time-controlled release of drugs to patients. Still at the prototype stage, the patch will likely be 25 mm square in size and 3 mm thick. It will incorporate an array of microneedles that are between 75 and 100 microns, which will penetrate the top dry layer of the skin, also known as the stratum corneum. Above the microneedles is an array of wells, [and] those wells can hold one or more drugs, the device has "an active mechanism to push the drug through the needle"."
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HP's Inkjet Technology Used to Administer Drugs

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  • Can't wait (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @07:49PM (#20581125)
    Can't wait till we see the black-market "refill kits" for these.

    It's... getting... sooohoho... coooold.
  • by sweatyboatman ( 457800 ) <sweatyboatman AT hotmail DOT com> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @07:50PM (#20581131) Homepage Journal
    The printer comes free with your doctor's prescription. But it only comes with enough ink for one patch and refills are $1000.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by kbob88 ( 951258 )
      That's OK. There's a guy down the street who refills the patches for cheap, using no-name brands from China. What could go wrong? A little lead paint mixed in with the drug won't hurt will it? It's only my health, right?
    • and refills are $1000.

      so it's very similar to a regular inkjet printer then, isn't it?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by davester666 ( 731373 )

        and refills are $1000.
        so it's very similar to a regular inkjet printer then, isn't it?
        Only these refills are a lot cheaper than regular inkjet refills.
      • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )
        Thanks for explaining the joke, I didn't get it at first.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by davidsyes ( 765062 )
      DAMN! I thought this was FUNNY. Too bad I don't have moderator points...
    • But it only comes with enough ink for one patch and refills are $1000.

      And every time you clean the printer heads, you get a drug overdose.
    • by subl33t ( 739983 )
      You can get them at a reduced price but then the patches will leave an HP watermark on your skin...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The drug companies will love it. It will only dispense half the contents before needing replacement.
  • by kbob88 ( 951258 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @07:52PM (#20581147)
    I was doing fine until my anti-psychotic medicine ran out of yellow!
  • Tattoos? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phasm42 ( 588479 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @07:56PM (#20581183)
    Could this be used to make a tattoo printer? Maybe they could release a laser tattoo remover as well.
    • by HTH NE1 ( 675604 )

      Could this be used to make a tattoo printer? Maybe they could release a laser tattoo remover as well.
      Sure, just feed your arm in from the paper tray and up through the pinch rollers.
    • Or even a temporary tattoo with the drug name, date, time and dose. Now that could save a few lives I'd imagine.
  • by topham ( 32406 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @07:56PM (#20581185) Homepage
    The drugs will be cheaper than ink, therefor there isn't enough of a market in it for HP.

  • What about actually injecting ink instead of drugs? Pain free tattoos that take almost no time to apply.

    I think I'll go off and file a patent on this :-)

  • by dorpus ( 636554 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @07:57PM (#20581195)
    I remember seeing articles in 1997 hyping up transdermal microneedle skin patches. Not much has come of it since.
    • ...a Blue Tatoo like scare about how these will be sued to put gradeschoolers on LSD.

      Or perhaps an actual attempt to do so by some moron.
      • Nah, DMSO works just fine for LSD. Just read the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. But I don't think a gradeschooler would stand still while a stranger straps this to them.
  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @07:57PM (#20581199) Homepage
    Damn it Jim! I'm a doctor, not a printer!
  • We used to print dna microarrays with laser jets. 10,000 genes uphill bothways in the snow. And when someone complained, we beat them half to death and buried them alive in a cornfield. But those were the old days. Not like how you young whippersnappers have it today.
  • Artificial Gland (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dr. Eggman ( 932300 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @08:00PM (#20581221)
    I could easily imagine this could quickly become a useful method of self mediation. A sort of artificial gland of sorts that doesn't administer based on time, but rather based on biofeedback sensors. The alcoholic choose to overcome his problem by customizing an artificial gland which stimulates a release of pain or possibly general uneasiness once his blood alcohol level begins to rise. A person or criminal with anger management problems the recieves a release of calming chemicals when blood pressure rises to high. Of course, medicine is the perfect place to start, it could work not unlike a pacemaker and administer insulin when a diabetic's levels get low. The possibilities beyond simple timing are immense, give that they can accomplish easy replenishing and ofcourse that (as I assume) the microneedles do not actually hurt.

    Imagine the phrase "Slap a band-aid on it and call it a day" becoming common in the medical community.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TubeSteak ( 669689 )

      A person or criminal with anger management problems the recieves a release of calming chemicals when blood pressure rises to high.

      Be careful, you just might end up with either:
      A) People who purposefully work their blood pressure up to get a calming jolt
      B) People who learn to be angry without any physiological manifestations (aka sociopaths)

      I recall reading an article discussing a study of criminals who had gone through anger management. Their conclusion was that the only thing some criminals learned was how to mask their anger from others until it was too late.

      • Sociopaths aren't angry people who hide their anger well enough not to have any physiological manifestations. (As far as I can tell, that's biologically impossible.) Sociopaths are scarier than that--they're people who can feel completely calm and at ease while harming others in ways an emotional person would describe as "vicious".
    • Butt, will it werk for hemorrhoids?

      What will be scary is if this product makes it into the toilet paper business. Talk about the inkjet business going to shit, the shitter and disappearing into a heap of shit.

      We'll REALLy wipe out the TP supply, I suppose...

      (HEHEHE, captcha: "angling", but I saw "dangling" and dingle*y)
    • by caluml ( 551744 )
      A person or criminal

      Is a criminal not a person then?
    • Your ideas are as queer as a clockwork orange.
  • by Crypto Gnome ( 651401 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @08:01PM (#20581233) Homepage Journal
    You heard it first folks - soon you will be bombarded with SPAM for

    CH3@P R3F!LLS for your TR@NSD3RM@L P@TCH3S

    Yet when you buy the product
    • they leak
    • they clog
    • the "fluid" in the 3rd-party refills simply don't produce the same results as quality/original manufacturer refills
  • No DRM! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by localman ( 111171 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @08:03PM (#20581251) Homepage
    They better not try to lock them down like with the ink cartridges... I want to be able to refill with the drugs of my choice!

    There's a guy on the street corner who says he'll load it with zizzyjuice for $25 or a blowjob...
  • accidents? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drakyri ( 727902 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @08:04PM (#20581259)
    What happens is someone smacks the patch, or you bump into something?
    • by jagdish ( 981925 )
      It hurts like hell.
    • by Xeth ( 614132 )

      Well, it's just an array of microscopically short needles. If they push hard, the substrate pushes against your skin, and nothing happens. If they shove laterally, a few of the needles might nudge around in your skin. Worst case, you lose a few micrometers of dead skin.

      If you're worried about the wells rupturing, such an event would probably mean the excess drug ends up on your skin. This may or may not be harmless. However, if the drugs could be effective that way, why use needles at all?

      I doubt such r

  • How long will it be until this is exploited by criminals or government spooks who want somebody offed?
    It could be used to inject poison, virii, or other nasties.

  • I used my printer for this a long time.

    # cat /dev/lsd | lpt0 ...and Im ready to code for another 16 hours
    • by Ossifer ( 703813 )
      Dude, what char major, minor numbers are you using for /dev/lsd??!?!
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        "Dude, what char major, minor numbers are you using for /dev/lsd??!?!"

        D'uh! Its an imaginary numnber - rotate your printer 90 degrees from this universe and try again.

    • You obviously haven't really been on a trip ... ever ...

      I can tell you, after a blotter, not only you won't be able to code; if you are not used to it, you will be begging for a trip sitter.

      To get you running another 16 hours, a cocaine hit will be the best, but sniffing is nicer, simpler, and less dangerous than needles anyway, so no need to bother.
      • It was supposed to be a (apperently bad) joke, not a confession of my drug habits.
        Cocaine will require several refills to get you going 16 hours.
  • And here I thought there wasn't anything they could put in those cartridges more expensive than printer ink.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @08:18PM (#20581391) Journal
    The way inkjets work, they heat a micro droplet of the ink so much so that it emerges from the nozzle explosively and hits the paper. I wonder how much of the potency of the delicate drugs would remain after they have been subjected to so much of pressure and heat. Would they react with the metal/plastic in the nozzle?
    • Well, that's not strictly true. That's the way an HP inkjet works, Epson printers use micro-piezo nozzles, IIRC that's also the nozzle type on my Canon i960.

      The way inkjets work, they heat a micro droplet of the ink so much so that it emerges from the nozzle explosively and hits the paper. I wonder how much of the potency of the delicate drugs would remain after they have been subjected to so much of pressure and heat. Would they react with the metal/plastic in the nozzle?

    • That would be something studied during the approval process for a particular drug when adapted for this particular dosage form. It's a good question to bring up, but it will definitely be answered with time and research.
  • My perscription plan will only pay for Lexmark.
  • Doctor: "PC LOAD LETTER! What the hell does that mean!?"
  • Hmm, micro-needles is something any outdoorsy person can relate to - Noseeums anyone?
  • by jmil ( 782329 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @08:50PM (#20581661)
    Transdermal drug delivery has been around for ages, as well as microfabricated needles. For a recent state-of-the-art, see: []

    The main problem (most of the physical fabrication issues have been overcome) is that almost any material used to fabricate the needles will quickly be recognized by the immune system, which will not only attempt to push the needles out but will also form a "fibrotic capsule" around the needles, preventing them from dispensing drug. How does HP intend to get around these problems? Smoke and Mirrors! This is the grand challenge of transdermal drug delivery, and it doesn't look like HP has gotten much further at all.

    Additionally, I don't know about the (rest of the) heathens out there, but I wouldn't want needles permanently implanted in my arm, leaving my insides exposed to the outsides (and how do they plan to control backflow [i.e. bleeding] or prevent blood clots from blocking the needles, by the way??).

    A much more promising approach for transdermal drug delivery is actually ballistic injection of (gold) (micro or nano) particles through the skin that are decorated with the drug of interest. This is reminiscent of Star Trek because it's an old idea that is based on some solid science. It might even be possible to use this for ballistic injection of DNA for vaccines, without having any of the drawbacks as described above for microneedles. Ask Dr. Google or see: []
    and even better: []

    You also have to keep in mind that the skin MUST be properly disinfected before either microneedles are implanted or ballistic injection is performed, otherwise you may introduce bacteria or other nasties into you deeper dermal layers (does anyone remember flesh eating bacteria?).

    • so what is to happen when the body start to reject the bits of gold?
      • by jmil ( 782329 )
        Interesting question, but gold is 100% biocompatible, and will NOT ever be rejected by the body. Unlike silver, there have never been reports of gold eliciting an immune response (which is why gold teeth were so common a few hundred years ago, and gold continues to be used for dental applications). There are gold nanoparticles that you can drink as a cocktail that are supposed to promote your health, and also don't forget excellent drinks like Goldschlager: []äger
  • by Ydna ( 32354 ) *
    I don't suppose I'll be able to use generic refill cartridges on this.
  • Will WebDrugAdmin send me email when I am low?

    If I eat too many cheap donuts, will the patch jam with cholesterol?

    If the patch does not deliver enough medication, can I take it off and slap it back on harder to make it work?

    Can I buy a patch duplexer option which will let me turn the patch over and use the other side?

    Since the device will probably be set by default to deliver the maximum amount of medication thru every needle port, can I use WebDrugAdmin to change all the default settings to something m

  • Dude! You're getting a De... ummmm, HP?
  • "Case watched as she tore the bubble away, peeled the derm from its backing, and smoothed it across his inner wrist. The drug hit him like an express train"
  • So we have hypodermic needles and transdermal patches. What's next? Superdermate bandages?
  • <html>

    <body bgcolor = "#000" onload = "window.print()">yes!</body>

  • Not just drugs, but ink can be delivered with inkjet technology

    Automated, 9-color 300 dpi tattoos?
  • by JRHelgeson ( 576325 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @11:45PM (#20583151) Homepage Journal
    I think my wife is on Microsoft Birth Control, because every week she has to apply a new patch.
  • I'd wager the Dell 'dude' kid will live happily ever after as an HP printer sales person (or somewhere in the toner division).

    recall: Dell 'dude' kid lost job for smoking pot.

    Maybe make a sales-couple/team with Eileen Feiss?
  • Cool, gimme 1200 dpi (drugs per inch, that is).

  • Sweet (Score:3, Funny)

    by Legion303 ( 97901 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:59AM (#20583771) Homepage
    I'm betting the drugs cost way less than the ink. Any takers?
  • I wonder if these things break as often as the HP junk printer I have staring at me unpluggeed in the corner.
  • Ouch! (Score:2, Funny)

    by akkarin ( 1117245 )
    Please correct
    skin jam, then
    press enter.
  • Just don't hold your cellphone too close to it.
    dzzzt. "Whoops! Too much!"
  • your skin still doesn't make it ideal.

    If you want to achieve real efficiency, use the large permeable you just took a breath through. Its MADE for it and doesn't need needles (sorry HP.)

    And it DOES transfer pharmaceuticals.

    Just ask the companies that make inhalers, (and tobacco companies [or pot farmers,]) lungs work great.
  • Do you have to download 750MB of crap software that loads a dozen drivers into your body to "manage" your needles in order to use this?

    Thanks, but I'll wait for the Epson "needles"...

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann