© Ann Goodman 2012
Q&A: Following UN Women NYC’s “3 Pillars of Sustainability,” May 8, 2012, Ann talks with Pharmajet’s Heather Potters, Founder and Chair, about the role of business in global health.
1. Ann: PharmaJet is a new medical device company, and your mother developed the technology. What’s the company’s role in furthering sustainable development?
Heather: The company’ mission is to make a positive contribution to reducing the global disease burden through injection delivery of vaccines with its devices, safely and effectively.
2. Ann: How do you do that?
Heather: We’ve developed a simple, innovative needle-free jet injection technology—focused on delivery of vaccines into the body. “Needle-free” is not new, but the way in which PharmaJet has approached it is. A variety of care givers, customers, patients, governments, and NGO’s have used the technology and confirmed it to be very useful and desirable in a variety of healthcare environments, as an alternative to needle-syringe and the resulting disposal, needle-stick, needle re-use and liability issues they face.
3. Ann: Is the traditional vaccination process potentially a global health issue?
Heather: The aim of vaccination is to help the body generate immunity to disease. Vaccines have been developed over the past several decades to address disease that have threatened humanity (e.g. polio, typhoid, tetanus, measles, influenza, hepatitis, rabies, yellow fever, etc.). Immunization is core to an infant’s survival and childhood development. It is also increasingly important to global health and the economics supporting productive adult populations and workforces.
4. Ann: What kinds of problems arise with needle-based vaccines?
Heather: The World Health Organization estimates that there are 22 million needle-stick injuries globally each year and that 50% of needle injections are unsafe. Stick and re-use contribute up to 20 blood-borne pathogens (Hepatitis and HIV being the most common). Estimates are that contaminated needles and syringes cause at least 1.3 million preventable deaths a year and an annual burden of $535 million in direct medical costs. Senior WHO officials say that having a needle-free method of vaccination is a priority for their programs to address these urgent issues.
5. Ann: How widespread could your technology become?
There are 24 vaccine preventable diseases, with an estimated 450 vaccines under development to address serious diseases for which there is yet no treatment. An estimated 2 billion vaccinations are delivered annually, resulting in global market expenditure in excess of $23 billion growing at15% per annum (Source: Sanofi, GSK-2010). Vaccination is considered to be the most cost effective preventative form of care as a standard in theworld.
PharmaJet’s footprint of sales and collaborations which has been developed during the past four years spans many countries and diversified channels of use. It is supported by three core FDA 510k marketing approvals and a variety of other regulatory clearances outside the US. PharmaJet is the only needle-free developer to have regulatory clearance for injection of any liquid medicine into all three tissue depths: Intramuscular and subcutaneous (0.5 ml), and intradermal (0.1 ml). Nearly all vaccines are delivered in these injection volumes.
6. Ann: Given your investment background, what are your thoughts on the role of business in furthering sustainable development?
Heather: Using my background from the 20 years in Central and Eastern European private equity investments, demonstrating utility of PharmaJet’s technology in all markets at all economic levels importantly allows for the business to become a global standard.
7. Ann: How does the ‘standard’ drive sales volume?
Heather: If it becomes a global standard, then volumes are high, and therefore cost of goods sold can be low. This business model has been adopted in so many companies, for different markets, approaching the way in which a sustainable business model can be applied because of the benefits that volume brings.
8. Ann: And do healthy profits for PharmaJet mean healthier people?
Heather: I am certain that through demonstration that populations and communities can become healthier by adopting needle-free for immunization, use broadly will be reinforced. That local economic benefit created then translates into the same global healthcare budget being stretched over a wider population and/or more vaccines, which ultimately produces a “return on health” expenditures that is further reinforcing. That, then, provides the opportunity for the paradigm shift to a better and safer technology that benefits us all.