Edison Nation Medical, a medical device incubator and healthcare innovation portal, is launching a global search to uncover innovative ideas for improving the design, packaging and administration of medications as a way to address the issue of accidental poisonings. This search coincides with National Poison Prevention Week, which takes place March 16 – 22.
Every 15 seconds, a Poison Control Center somewhere in the United States receives a call. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 2 million poison exposures in the United States every year—57 percent among children under the age of six.
In 2007, Dr. Daniel Budnitz, a scientist with the CDC’s Medication and Safety Program, started tracking children who were treated in emergency rooms after potentially toxic accidental pharmaceutical poisonings. At the conclusion of his tracking period in 2011, federal estimates put the number at around 74,000, which surpassed the number of children younger than six who needed emergency room treatment as a result of car crashes.
Poisoning from medication also affects the elderly; these poisonings are more likely to require hospitalization and to be fatal compared with younger individuals. Analgesics, cardiovascular medications, COPD and asthma preparations, antidepressants and other psychotropic medications are most commonly implicated in drug poisoning fatalities in elderly Americans. The primary reasons for unintentional drug poisonings in older patients include taking more than the prescribed dose, taking someone else’s medication, administering medication incorrectly and storing medication improperly.
According to the CDC, more than 41,000 people died as a result of poisoning in 2008 and more than 76 percent of those poisoning deaths were unintentional.
“The fact that nearly 9 out of 10 poisoning deaths are caused by pharmaceutical medications is alarming,” said Julie Wheelan, vice president of marketing for Edison Nation Medical. “There is clearly an urgent need for re-evaluating our current system of packaging and administering medications. While there have been a few innovations to help minimize accidental drug poisonings, I’m confident we can find better solutions.”
Innovations designed to protect against accidental drug poisonings include, but may not be limited to, child resistant bottle caps, Clear Rx and flow restrictors, all of which are described below.
Child Resistant Caps
The first flavored children’s aspirin was produced in the 1940s as a way to make medicine more pleasing to children. The unexpected consequence of this, however, was that children were more likely to seek—and take—the medicine with no adult supervision, almost as if it were candy. During the 1940s and 1950s, aspirin poisoning constituted 25 percent of all poisonings in children. At that time, Dr. Jay Arena, a pediatrician at Duke University, led the push for drug companies to develop a childproof safety cap. While the cap has helped minimize poisonings since its inception, it is child-resistant, not child-proof.
Many years later, graduate student Deborah Adler embarked on a school project to address the shortcomings of the standard round plastic pill bottles. In early 2000, she began working on “Safe Rx” by identifying the problems with traditional pill bottles, including inconsistent labeling, round shape that can render instructions difficult to read, confusing numbers and date information, oversized pharmacy logos that crowd out pertinent information, and poorly designed color combinations for warning labels. The resulting product was a more intuitive pill bottle with an easy-to-read label, removable information card, color-coded rings that can be assigned to each person in a household and redesigned warning icons. Adler approached pharmaceutical retailers and the FDA, but Target Corporation ultimately patented and retained exclusive rights to the system, now known as “Clear Rx.” Target rolled out the new system in 2005.
In 2007, the aforementioned Dr. Budnitz worked to try to reduce the growing numbers of children who were accidentally poisoned by pharmaceuticals. He persuaded drug makers, federal regulators and poison experts to come together on an initiative to add flow restrictors to medicine bottles, which could serve as a backup if children successfully opened a medication’s safety cap or if caregivers left medicine bottles open and unattended. These flow restrictors have not been widely adopted.
“Pharmaceutical poisonings are heartbreaking since these accidents are almost 100% preventable,” stated Bobby Grajewski, president of Edison Nation Medical. “We are confident that bright ideas exist in the minds of patients, physicians, nurses and others for improving the manner in which medications are designed, packaged and administered to better protect children, the elderly and, really, anyone who has exposure to pharmaceuticals. We are eager to receive these ideas and help bring them to life in order to eliminate these senseless accidents and deaths.”
Edison Nation Medical provides a clear pathway for anyone with a new medical invention idea—doctors, nurses, technicians, patients, caregivers and entrepreneurs—to get their idea to market by breaking down the traditional barriers to entry, which include time, money, expertise and access.
Anyone with a relevant search idea may submit it to the confidential portal at https://edisonnationmedical.com/?s=poison+control through May 5. The best ideas will be designed, developed and licensed by Edison Nation Medical, which then splits licensing royalties 50/50 with successful inventors.
Individuals pay a $25 submission fee for each idea. There is no limit to the number of ideas an inventor may submit. Edison Nation Medical absorbs all subsequent research, patent and development costs.
ABOUT EDISON NATION MEDICAL
Edison Nation Medical is a medical device incubator and health care innovation portal with deep product development and medical expertise. A collaboration between Carolinas HealthCare System, one of the nation’s leading health care systems, and Edison Nation, prolific product developer and online social community for inventors, Edison Nation Medical’s mission is to create more effective, efficient and safer health care through innovation by breaking down traditional barriers and providing an easy way for new medical product inventions to come to life.
Edison Nation Medical is based in Charlotte, N.C. For more information on the company, please visit www.EdisonNationMedical.com.