Entrepreneurs Pitch Their Innovations for Independent Pharmacies at APhA 2022

A presentation at the American Pharmacists Association Annual Meeting 2022, highlighted potential innovations for community pharmacies.

In a Shark Tank-like presentation at the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Annual Meeting 2022, 3 entrepreneurs highlighted innovative strategies for independent pharmacies.

The entrepreneurs presented their products to judges and the audience, who then voted on their favorite product for community pharmacies, with the winner being Nook Chen, PharmD, owner of an immunization device called Nooksle. Chen will receive a $250 gift card and free registration to APhA 2023 for having the winning presentation.

“I feel great about [the presentation],” Chen said in an interview with Pharmacy Times®. “It is really reassuring to receive so much positive feedback, especially from colleagues that are much more experienced than I am. I would say it was a big boost to morale.”

Chen started his presentation explaining his pharmacy background, which he said consisted of administering many immunizations. In doing so, he noticed that there was significant waste in both time and resources when it comes to administering mixed medications.

The device, Nooksle, is a device that helps mix powder and liquid medications quickly to reduce the waste of time and material to administer medications. The device is lightweight and is roughly the size of the palm of a hand.

In his presentation, Chen had a side-by-side video that compared the time it took to mix a vaccine using the quick mixer, which took 19.20 seconds, and compared that to conventional mixing, which took 53.18 seconds. The second version was a self-assembling syringe that would cut the time down even more.

“We made it more into a bottle instead of a vial where pharmacists are now able to pre-make sodium bicarb ahead of time,” Chen said during his presentation. “Once the patient comes, you pop [it] down, shake it, and give [it right to the patient].”

Sean Kim, a student pharmacist from University of Maryland Baltimore School of Pharmacy, kicked off the presentation with his “Travel Rx” app.

“Imagine you are traveling in Seoul, South Korea, and then all of a sudden, you don’t feel well,” Kim said to start his presentation. “What would you try?”

Kim said an individual could try to go to a local pharmacy for medication, but they may face issues when traveling, such as language barriers, drug information, and, even finding a pharmacy at all.

Travel Rx is an application that an individual can download on their phone that connects them with the right OTC products when traveling in foreign countries. The app also has a map feature that allows the user to be able to find community pharmacies when traveling.

He said that the app would also suggest other medications based off a search and would list the generic drug names, so individuals can see what they are taking and compare medications without the restriction of a language barrier.

The rollout of the app would start with South Korea, but Kim hopes to make the travel app a standard to connect patients with independent pharmacies across the globe.

Later, Randy McDonough, PharmD, MS, BCBP, BCPS, co-owner of Towncrest Pharmacies, presented “Choose My Pharmacy,” part of Seguridad, Inc.

“There’s a problem associated with what’s happening in a community pharmacy,” McDonough said in his presentation. “We’re not being recognized for what we do to intervene to help the patients achieve their therapeutic goals.”

He states that not all pharmacies are equal, and this makes it difficult for patients, caregivers, prescribers, and insurance companies to make fair comparisons between community pharmacies.

Choose My Pharmacy takes data from community pharmacies and gives them a letter score, similar to a report card, so users can compare pharmacies to get the best care. The scores are comprised of 4 unique data sources that are reported as 11 quality measures with a total star rating score, that help to fairly compare each pharmacy for a variety of different uses and services.

The score would initially be updated monthly, but his hope is that the information would be updated in real time for patients.

McDonough noted that the scores do not only help the patient, but vendors as well.

On the consumer side, the scores help to improve safety, mitigate cost, and optimize medication care and use; whereas from the vendor perspective, the scores can help them sell new services to independent pharmacies, according to McDonough.

Overall, the audience members decided that Chen’s medication mixing device was their favorite innovation that could not only help independent pharmacies, but the whole pharmacy industry in a more general sense, especially due to the rapid growth of pharmacies administering vaccines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.