The Pharmaceutical industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the evolution of new treatment paradigms, the gravity of unmet needs, as well as the growing importance of technologies such as pharmacogenomics, digital therapeutics, and artificial intelligence. In the last three years alone, there have been over 633,000 patents filed and granted in the pharmaceutical industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Robotics in Pharmaceuticals: Microneedles for transdermal drug delivery.  Buy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal, nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption before finally stabilising and reaching maturity. 

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have. 

100 innovations will shape the pharmaceutical industry 

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the pharmaceutical industry using innovation intensity models built on over 756,000 patents, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry. 

Within the emerging innovation stage, programmable temperature regulation, microreactor automation, and automated lab analysers are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Microneedles for transdermal drug delivery, tissue culturing automation, and programmable sterilisation are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing.  

Innovation S-curve for robotics in the pharmaceutical industry 

Microneedles for transdermal drug delivery is a key innovation area in robotics 

Microneedles are sterilised micron-sized, minimally invasive novel drug delivery needles used to administer therapeutic agents. Apart from transdermal drug delivery applications, its usage has extended to intraocular, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, intracochlear, lymphatic, and vaginal delivery of drugs. 

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 100+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established pharmaceutical companies, and up-and-coming start-ups, engaged in the development and application of microneedles for transdermal drug delivery. 

Key players in microneedles for transdermal drug delivery – a disruptive innovation in the pharmaceutical industry  


‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators. 

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local.’ 

Patent volumes related to microneedles for transdermal drug delivery

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Sorrento Therapeutics 280 Unlock Company Profile
Hisamitsu Pharmaceutical 213 Unlock Company Profile
Kimberly-Clark 146 Unlock Company Profile
3M 134 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson & Johnson 131 Unlock Company Profile
Waypoint Capital Holdings (Jersey) 130 Unlock Company Profile
CosMED Pharmaceutical 105 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm Holdings 95 Unlock Company Profile
AbbVie 87 Unlock Company Profile
Circuit Therapeutics 80 Unlock Company Profile
Toppan 75 Unlock Company Profile
Altaris Capital Partners 71 Unlock Company Profile
LG 66 Unlock Company Profile
Clearside BioMedical 59 Unlock Company Profile
Endoderma 54 Unlock Company Profile
BioSerenTach 49 Unlock Company Profile
MEDRx 48 Unlock Company Profile
Nissha 46 Unlock Company Profile
Becton Dickinson and 45 Unlock Company Profile
Radius Health 44 Unlock Company Profile
Rani Therapeutics Holdings 41 Unlock Company Profile
Labnpeople 39 Unlock Company Profile
Juvic 38 Unlock Company Profile
Vaxxas 37 Unlock Company Profile
Ndm Technologies 37 Unlock Company Profile
TheraJect 36 Unlock Company Profile
Blueberry Therapeutics 35 Unlock Company Profile
Inovio Pharmaceuticals 33 Unlock Company Profile
Labo Juversa 33 Unlock Company Profile
Sorrento Therapeutics 33 Unlock Company Profile
Raphas 28 Unlock Company Profile
InCube Labs 28 Unlock Company Profile
EpiPharm 28 Unlock Company Profile
Boston Scientific 28 Unlock Company Profile
Broadcom 26 Unlock Company Profile
LEO Foundation 25 Unlock Company Profile
Gearbox 25 Unlock Company Profile
Galderma Research and Development 24 Unlock Company Profile
L'Oreal 23 Unlock Company Profile
Takeda Pharmaceutical 22 Unlock Company Profile
Emplicure 20 Unlock Company Profile
E Ink Holdings 19 Unlock Company Profile
Quadmedicine 17 Unlock Company Profile
Ichor Medical Systems 17 Unlock Company Profile
Otsuka Holdings 17 Unlock Company Profile
Grifols 17 Unlock Company Profile
Novo Nordisk Foundation 16 Unlock Company Profile
Small Lab 16 Unlock Company Profile
Profusa 16 Unlock Company Profile
PCI Biotech Holding 15 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Sorrento Therapeutics is the leading patent filer in microneedles drug delivery, followed by Hisamitsu Pharmaceutical and Kimberly-Clark. Sorrento Therapeutics recently acquired Sofusa, a lymphatic microneedles delivery platform, from Kimberly-Clark. The company has also recently entered a licensing agreement with the Mayo Clinic for a Phase 1b pilot study on using Sofusa lymphatic microneedle to deliver Ipilimumab in patients with melanoma.

In terms of application diversity, Broadcom is the top company, followed by Endoderma and PCI Biotech. By means of geographic reach, Radius Health holds the top position. Grifols and Ichor Medical Systems are in the second and third positions, respectively.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the pharmaceutical industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Pharmaceutical.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.