by Caroline Poole
Pharmaceutical Innovation is a company that designs and engineers products that cater to a too-often-ignored audience: the elderly and those with vision loss, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. The idea for Pharmaceutical Innovation was born through a conversation between Tamer Mikhail and a close family member who was diagnosed with type A diabetes. After losing a significant portion of her sight, she spoke to Mikhail about the difficulties she had reading the information on her medication. Mikhail, an engineer with over 20 years experience, went looking for answers but found solutions lacking. “I did some research and none of the solutions made sense to me. I started thinking of a better way to be able to deliver medication to patients if they have disabilities or are elderly,” he said. Mikhail was wrestling with these issues on a flight to Mexico when his idea to start Pharmaceutical Innovation took hold. Eventually, he left his job behind and brought his engineering knowledge to the field of health care. Motivated by many patients’ struggles to take the medications they depend on, Mikhail developed Pharmaceutical Innovation’s mandate: to utilize technology to provide better medication management.
Mikhail started out by looking at the whole process of getting a prescription before narrowing down the improvements that needed to be made. “I wanted to look at the complete cycle,” said Mikhail, including the logistics, data, and communication that occurs from the time patients are prescribed their medication to the moment they take it. Pharmaceutical Innovation’s first priority when coming up with products was to maintain the accurate data coming from pharmacies and doctors. When patients take large doses of different medications daily, the chance of taking the wrong dosage or medication increases, especially when that patient has disabilities. “Thirteen percent of emergency hospital admission comes from medical mismanagement,” said Mikhail. With easy access and use in mind, Pharmaceutical Innovation set out to create products that would address this crucial issue.
After the patent process, hardware and software interfaces, and data entry testing, Pharmaceutical Innovation sent its products to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind to be tested, and then to hospitals for trials. For Mikhail, seeing and interacting with the patients testing their products was the biggest reward of a long process. “The satisfaction comes from seeing their reaction,” said Mikhail. For these patients, being able to take their medication without assistance isn’t just about independence, but safety.
Automated products, such as those invented by Pharmaceutical Innovation, allow patients to have more control of their medication with less physical strain. “Everything has to be automated in a way that makes it easy for the patient to be able to enter the data,” Mikhail explained. Reminders, easy-to-open prescription bottles, speech recognition, and data at the press of a button are some of the accessible features of their products. The Health Espresso App also allows patients to virtually manage their medication anywhere they go.
Currently, Pharmaceutical Innovation has eight products on the market and is excited to add a new product to its lineup in September. The newly developed portal will collect data from patients and make it available to emergency personnel and hospital staff. Using a code, they will have access to medical data and a complete history of when the patient took what medication, crucial information in emergency situations. In this way, Pharmaceutical Innovation hopes not only to help patients with their specialized products, but also assist doctors and medical personnel in accessing the correct information to keep their patients safe. “When a problem arises we have to look at the problem itself […] and try to figure out a better way to do it,” said Mikhail. As Pharmaceutical Innovation looks forward to its new release, it is one step closer to giving everyone access to safe medication management.