My friends and family know me as very opinionated, but since starting my blog last spring, I’ve gone to great lengths to keep politics out of the articles, with good reason. The main focus of the blog is about interesting and enjoyable places that people may want to go to with family, and fun events that people may not know about. However, it’s also about what it’s like raising children right now, and when the news of Mylan increasing the price of a $50 EpiPen to about $600 hit over the summer during a high point in a “haves vs have nots” campaign I couldn’t remain 100% apolitical. In my defense the article shouldn’t really be viewed as political as it impacts people at all income levels and on both sides of the political spectrum. But I guess anything that might imply that a corporation, congress or the FDA is doing something that they clearly shouldn’t be doing, one is branded as a tree hugging, commie, pinko liberal trying to bring down America and turn it into a ‘welfare state.’ In fact it was very discouraging that several people close to me derided me for posting it
I was proud of it and felt it was my first actual piece of journalism, neither fluff nor a Facebook rant. Yet, I was told that people only want to hear about fun things that take their mind off of stuff like that. I was told it was a “turn off” and I shouldn’t write things that are negative.
Well, two things… First, that story has more activity on it then any other story I’ve written yet. Secondly, it was the only post that Facebook would not promote (original FamilyFatherFL FB post) confirming that it hit a chord somewhere important and that Facebook is actually deciding what news will and will not be shared. As a father, I found both revelations interesting. Most vindicating though, the article sparked a conversation that is making a tangible difference and potentially will help solve the very problem that I wrote about…
When finding that Facebook would not except my payment to ‘boost’ the post, I mentioned that in another Facebook post. My post about Facebook not posting was enough intrigue to
get a 3-D printer friend of mine (Fernando at Amznfx.com) to read the article itself. After he did he was livid and contacted me saying that we should get a hold of an EpiPen,
reverse engineer it and put the files on thingiverse.com for anyone to download and make their own. I chatted back-and-forth with him all day about all the reasons why that wouldn’t work but that night I thought of something that would.
I contacted my 3-D printing
friend the next day and said “hey you know that crazy idea about 3-D printing an EpiPen might not be as crazy as we first thought.” I explained that, of course, we could never hope to get FDA approval for our own generic EpiPen, especially since Mylan has bought up all the patents and variants. Also, congressional hearing optics aside, Heather Bresch and Mylan continue to have much say in what the FDA and congress approves. But we wouldn’t need to become a Pharmaceutical company and more importantly, people who can’t afford an EpiPen wouldn’t need us to. In my research, debunking the claim that the EpiPen uses proprietary medicine or that Mylan has continued to require development costs in R&D, I came to find that an EpiPen is nothing more than a 1970’s invention that is a self contained, auto-injecting, standard dose of Epinephrine. Anyone who can get a prescription for an EpiPen can get a prescription for epinephrine and a needle & syringe for about $5-10.
I would expect that it would be equally challenging to place our product with retailers, as companies like Mylan are known for ‘punishing’ retailers who try to circumvent their carefully rigged game. Again though, our target market would happily buy them on Amazon, eBay or any other online source.
So the challenge was simple, not reverse engineer an EpiPen and try to get patent approval and market share, but to just design a ‘case’ for an epinephrine ‘kit’. The case would hold a vial of epinephrine in one side and a needle/syringe on the other. When needed, the user would screw the parts together, plunging the needle into the vial. Then one pulls back on the tabs on the syringe side until they click into place, filling the syringe and spring loading the dental bands inside (something I learned as the enable hand known as the ‘raptor’ evolved). The final step is to unscrew the two part case, place the open end on the left thigh and hit the button on the top. That releases the stretched out dental bands plunging the needle into the thigh and pushing the plunger down to deliver the dose. It really is that simple. If you have a 3D printer it would take about a day to print, the dental bands (meant for braces) are sold in standard exact sizes everywhere, and most basic 3D printers could do a good enough job that it would function.
I’ve checked with doctors, nurses and
hospital administrators since August and
never hit a “you can’t do it because…” moment. One friend sent me a box of samples to get started. She sent; one vial, one ampule (both non-prescription medicine) and a standard syringe so I could start prototyping. The day before meeting with my 3-D printing friend to take my sketches, samples & ideas and make them into usable 3-D printable files & a working prototype, Fernando spotted an article about a group that had already proved the concept…
For him that was enough, just like the hacker group he only wanted to prove it and post it. Maybe it wasn’t us, but for Fernando it was done, and done. The group from MIT was mainly seeking to prove false Mylan’s claim of high cost to market. With that done, they posted the files for people to print and likely moved on to other challenges. The group expressed no interest in developing a market for it as a product. I do. Capitalist interests aside, very few people have a 3-d printer so the concept was proven but the need is far from being met. Personally, I plan to further develop the idea and create EpiCases that people can buy like phone cases. I have designs that look like animals, football players and lightsabers. Unfortunately without Fernando (or a more experienced 3D artist like him) I have many months of learning cad to bring these sketches to reality. And without my own 3D printer at the moment, even longer before prototyping and testing.
As far as I know death from anaphylaxis is not a concern for anyone close in my friends and family so one might say I have no ‘dog in the fight’ but 200 people a year do die and I can literally do something about it. Obviously I’m not the only one who put the pieces together but I’ll take being a few weeks behind a team of hackers from MIT. And no one yet is actually making these, I could. One of the tenants that I live by is that all it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. This is something I can do. That’s the dog I have in the fight. By making these an affordable alternative, lives could be saved now and forever hence.
All that is needed now is:
1. 3D expert (preferably Autodesk because that’s what I’m most familiar with)
2. Ultimaker 2+ Extended ($2999)
3. Quote from a local manufacturer (at least US), preferably a small one somewhere in central Florida.
-I need the manufacturing and packaging cost below $10/unit so I can sell them for $30 retail and give an equal number away to clinics and other groups who can’t afford even my $30 retail version. I believe that dollars should never be part of the equation when protecting children from the potential of death.
I plan to continue my quest to bring this product to market (not just to Facebook and Twitter) and will probably try a crowdsourcing platform. However, if anyone reading this is interested in collaborating or contributing by name or anonymously, please contact me at Keith@CloneCrafting.com