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Tuesday, 25 August, 1998, 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK
Taking the pain out of injections
Intraject: taking the pain out of an injection
By BBC Health Correspondent James Westhead

A revolutionary needle-free injection has been developed which aims to take the fear out of having a jab.

Instead of using a needle the so-called 'Intraject' works by firing a tiny jet of liquid through the skin.

The manufacturers, Weston Medical, claim the device, which is about to begin clinical trials, is more hygienic than a needle and virtually painless. It is also disposable and relatively cheap.

A company spokesman said: "It will make an enormous difference because no longer will they have to draw a drug from a vial and stick a stainless steel needle into themselves. They will be able to use Intraject with ease, comfort and simplicity."

Hypodermic needle
Hypodermic needle: a thing of the past?
Hypodermic syringes have been hugely effective - but 100 years on it's one of the few bits of medical technology that's fundamentally unchanged.

Keen for an alternative

Doctors are keen for an alternative because of the risk of infection and injury.

Administering drugs without a needle should also reduce the risk of introducing harmful bacteria into the circulation.

The Intraject works in a microsecond. High pressure gas forces the liquid into a tiny jet which pierces the skin and deposits the drug with minimal tissue damage.

Similar devices have been developed before, but this is the first time the technology has been compressed into a cheap disposable form.

The Intraject cannot be used on patients until the clinical trials later this year, but those who have tried it claim it is almost painless.

It is hoped the needle-free injection could replace the syringe for a wide range of treatments including routine vaccinations.

Regular users to benefit

Richard English
Richard English: endured regular needle injections
Patients who need frequent injections could be the first to benefit.

Hepatiitis C sufferer Richard English had to endure painful injections in the thigh every other day.

He said: "I found it frightening to jab this little piece of cold steel into my leg. If that could be removed it would also remove a little bit of the fear."

BBC News
James Westhead: "The idea is not new"
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The BBC's James Westhead: "The pain free jab of the future"
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