A new startup used the versatility of plastics to bring an eye-dropping change to the medical industry, with the first parts ready to deliver to customers this summer.
In 2017, Allisa Song, a current medical student at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, read a ProPublica investigative story detailing how drug companies make eyedrops too large for the human eye, and as a result consumers have hundreds of dollars worth of medication dripping down their face, wasted.
"Not only is it annoying, but that little bit drips down and adds to the financial barrier for those who are spending hundreds on higher-end prescriptions," she told Plastics News in a recent interview.
Song recruited a group of engineers and medical students—Elias Baker, an engineer and chief operating officer, Mackenzie Andrews, chief commercialization officer, and Jennifer Steger as chief scientific officer—and the Nanodropper was born. The company since has hired a team to help assist getting the device to market.
Together, they prototyped a device that creates a smaller droplet to be used with prescription eye drops, an amount that will fit into the human eye without creating waste.
The Minnesota-based Nanodropper consists of an liquid silicone rubber molded tube and high density polyethylene base and cap parts, Baker said. The adapter is a sterilized medical device and has been approved by the FDA.
"It essentially has a smaller opening on the end of the tip, and it goes onto the top of current existing eyedrop bottles just like the OEM cap would," he said.
The project targeted glaucoma medications, which can cost up to $500 per bottle, with some people paying $800 out of pocket for a three-month supply, Song said. About 25 percent of patients run out of the medication before their next refill.
"We estimate that we extend the bottle life three- to fourfold," she said.
The project gathered more than $200,000 in funding through grants and prizes in the years since the initial idea was created.
The Nanodropper is priced at $14.99 and is available online.