Pioneering medical device design

Pfizer’s game changing Genotropin Pen was designed to improve quality of life for children with growth hormone deficiency. It’s renowned for its friendly design. The hidden needle and colorful clip-on covers help thousands of kids accept their need for daily injections.

Genotropin is a man-made human growth hormone used to treat children and adults with growth hormone deficiencies. In 1991, Pfizer (then Pharmacia) decided to redevelop its existing injection device in order to meet new regulations and user needs. Many children have a hard time to accept the fact that they may have to take daily injections for the rest of their lives. The challenge was to design a device that could reduce anxiety and stigmatization by creating a strong emotional bond with the pen for the user.

Thorough global research payed off

With our People Insight toolbox the Veryday team set out to find out how patients approached and used injection devices depending on age group, country, culture and tradition.

– It’s much easier to accept the fact that you need to take daily injections of growth hormones if you’re more at ease and not anticipating pain prior to injecting, says Hans Himbert, Industrial Designer at Veryday. Also the user experience when it comes to colors and images on the injection device, was researched with more than 1000 children in America, Europe and Asia. The insights from the global research were translated into design concepts. Handling tests and human factors evaluation of different function models were conducted, in order to find the best design of the device.

As always, we involved different types of stakeholders,  when testing the concepts. After having tested and iterated several prototypes together with stakeholders, Pfizer and Veryday had created an injection device that was functionally and aesthetically superior. The integrated needle guard hid the needle and also helped increase stability during injection. The digital display and color-coded buttons made it easier to set and inject accurate doses. The choice of shapes, colors and materials gave the device a personal, warm and friendly identity.

Return on Design Investment (RODI)

Genotropin was approved in 1995 and has had great market success since, even after facing significant challenges such as, for example, increased competition and loss of drug patent. The hormone growth market in 2011 was valued at 3,5 BUSD, whereas Pfizers Genotropin accounted for approximately 26% of total group share. Impressive, for a product that has been in the market for almost two decades.

The user-friendly, inclusive and emotional design of the Genotropin pen has been a key driver to its long withstanding success, continuing to capture and maintain loyal prescribers and users around the world. The global growth hormone market is expected to hit 4.7 BUSD by 2018. A market, which Genotropin surely will continue to be a significant player in. The unique design and the versatility of the Genotropin Pen generated several global design patents, which further strengthened Pfizers competitive advantage by being the preferred injection pen among its prescribers and users.

Copying is the best way of flatter – the Genotropin pen lead the path in how a device can be personalized. I mean, think about it, in 1995 personalized cell phone cases didn’t even exist.

Liselott Silvhed, Director of Life Science, Veryday

Something to be proud of, and nothing to be afraid of

The Genotropin Pen puts users at ease by appearing more like a familiar consumer product and less like a medical necessity. Veryday’s solution makes the needle invisible, and enables the user to personalize the device with the clip-on covers in many different colors, patterns and themes, similar to the ones that was launched a few years later for mobile phones. We also made it possible to attach mascots, pendants and trinkets. The Genotropin design has proven to create strong emotional bonds with the pen, as it offers a less stressful experience, less stigma and even makes the users proud of the personal device.

I’m happy that more companies acknowledge that one size does not fit all today. It’s been a part of our philosophy since we started in 1969.

Hans Himbert, Industrial Designer, Veryday