Tassie Medtech With A Simple Solution
by Lily Whiting
As paramedics, Clare Brown and George Poulos knew firsthand how stressful and high-pressure the medical environment can get when administering life-saving medication.
After hearing about too many close calls, they decided something must be done to lower the chances of medical mistakes occurring. Fast forward a few years, these Tasmanians are behind start-up MedTech group Jay-Nik, and are founders of the Drop + Lock Syringe®, a simple solution they are hoping to take to market very soon.
Can you explain what the Drop + Lock Syringe is and why you created it? The Drop + Lock® Syringe aims to reduce medication errors. The unique patented syringe has a captive device that lets the clinician load the empty medication ampoule into the rear of the plunger, whereby the ampoule is used to label the drug inside the syringe. The medication ampoule contains vital information such as the name of the drug, as well as the strength and dose of the medication.
Where does the name come from? Drop + Lock® Syringe is named because you “drop” the used medication ampoule into the syringe, and it becomes “locked” inside the plunger.
What has the process been to get the product to market? We started with a proof of concept and design process in early 2018. Since the patents were granted in 2018 we have spent considerable resources developing, refining and researching the design. The syringe has a regulation pathway designed, and a US company was engaged to conduct human factors testing on the device. We also achieved a global market survey within the US, EU, UK and Central America to gain feedback from frontline clinicians across the globe. Our start-up is now in a position to transfer or licence the patents.
How has your personal experience as paramedics informed the development? We saw firsthand the risks to both patient and clinician everyday when administering medication. Overdosing a patient with a potential lethal amount of medicine is a moment in your career you never want to experience. Unfortunately, patients are overdosed as a direct result from medication labelling. And yet, there has been little development to assist clinicians. These incidents aren’t quarantined to emergency paramedics, this also occurs in hospitals, operating theatres, emergency departments, and community nursing. The experience as a paramedic has provided the confidence that a huge problem exists and the Drop+Lock® syringe will assist to eliminate these errors and save lives.
What are the leading causes of mistakes in our healthcare environments? Adverse drug errors are the leading cause of mistakes in an emergency and hospital settings. The most common of these errors is administering the wrong medication or overdosing the patient. These errors are caused by labelling errors. The syringe may not be labelled or is incorrectly labelled. Due to fear of punishment, healthcare professionals are reluctant to report errors. Diversion of drugs in the healthcare setting, where the clinician or member of the public steals or diverts drugs of abuse, is rarely reported on publicly. Quantifying the extent of the problem is difficult so the Drop + Lock® Syringe will also assist hospitals and community healthcare providers to improve traceability and auditability of medications.
How pivotal has the support from the Tasmanian and interstate medical and innovation industries been? In 2018 we joined eight innovating teams at The MedTech Actuator in Melbourne (Australia’s first accelerator for medical devices). The opportunity to be mentored by industry leaders was extremely valuable to our pathway. Artesian VC has assisted immensely with financial support. The support of our private investors is amazing. We could not have developed and progressed this syringe without their continued and valued support. I believe we have the best investors in the world. We were lucky enough to win the STEM Excellence Awards in November last year, supported by UTAS.
It seems like such a simple and effective way to reduce medication confusion; does it surprise you that someone hasn’t thought of it before? Yes, if we had a dollar for every time we heard that! However, the syringe is so simple people believe there is more to it. There’s no artificial intelligence or moving parts, the syringe’s simplicity is what makes it so functional. When clinicians are already under huge pressure, they need simplicity and certainty. And that’s what the Drop + Lock® Syringe offers.
Where are you hoping to go from here? Our start-up is now in a position to transfer or licence the patents.
Do you have plans for other devices? Let’s get this one on the market first!