Twin brothers Evan and Eric Edwards grew up in constant fear that the next thing they ate would kill them. Diagnosed with severe food allergies, they knew that with one wrong bite they would have only seconds to react if they wanted to live. To prevent disaster, they monitored their diet carefully and only had a handful of close calls in their lifetime, but this actually presented a different problem. As years would pass between allergic attacks, their friends and family would forget how to administer the epinephrine shot that would save their life. Fortunately, for the 12 million Americans at risk of suffering an anaphylactic reaction from food allergies, Evan and Eric set out to solve this problem.
Their invention, currently awaiting FDA approval, is called the EpiCard. In a nutshell, it’s a small credit card sized auto-injector with a built in voice chip that gives step by step instructions on how to give an epinephrine shot. For those at risk of anaphylaxis from food allergies or insect bites, the value of the EpiCard is obvious. You no longer need to give yourself the shot before the reaction becomes debilitating or rely on a friend who knows what to do. The built in voice instructions means a stranger only needs to know how to open the wrapper and follow directions.
If you follow this blog, you know about my disruptive innovation series with Scott Anthony. Scott wasn’t available to join this call, but as I interviewed Evan I realized that his company Intelliject (EpiCard is the product name) was a legitimate disruptive technology that had far reaching potential to change the way medicine and vaccinations are delivered. I asked Evan how else might Intelliject’s voice instruction technology be used and he gave me the example of pandemic preparedness. If a wave of avian flu swept through a city, hospitals and clinics would be overwhelmed. Intelliject can easily make voice instruction injectors for bird flu inoculations that people can administer to one another at home. One of the key components of a disruptive innovation is it brings a skill or product to people who were previously unable or unwilling to access it. Intelliject’s voice instructions effectively give a non-medical professional the ability to administer a shot. While this may seem insignificant if you don’t suffer from severe allergies, imagine how many lives this would save in a biological terror attack.
Intelliject’s technology seems almost simple. After all, you can find sound chips in three-dollar greeting cards. But in a drug delivery application like the EpiCard, it has the potential to save hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives and turn anyone into a hero. That is definitely buzzworthy.
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