Healthcare systems worldwide continue to face significant and increasing strains and challenges related to obtaining the products they need to deliver safe, effective, and timely care to communities. These issues were especially highlighted and intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to this, it has become even more urgent for companies to develop innovative solutions to mitigate the complex supply chain, transportation, and logistical challenges that contribute to these issues. Pacto Medical, founded by Ian Speers, Ryan Stinebaugh, and Robert Halvorsen, has developed a patent-pending invention for a compact and resource-saving pre-filled syringe. The company has gained significant traction over the last 12 months and is making significant strides in this space.
In an exclusive interview, we had the opportunity to engage with the co-founders and dig deeper into their groundbreaking solution.
What was the inspiration behind Pacto Medical?
Over his past ten years of clinical and public health management work in the non-profit, private, academic, and government sectors, Ian had accumulated a long list of medical devices and supplies that he felt were ill-designed for their users and the settings in which they are most needed. During this time he had also come to the realization that major companies and medical device manufacturers were often less focused on and/or familiar with the low-resource, remote, conflict, and disaster settings that he and his colleagues worked in. Frustrated with these challenges, he reached out and recruited his long-term friend from undergrad, Robert – an entrepreneurial mechanical engineer with a focus on human-centered design. Robert in turn also recruited his friend and classmate from his Masters program, Ryan – another mechanical engineer with experience in product management, entrepreneurship, and business operations. Together, we decided to launch Pacto Medical, which focuses on creating innovative medical devices and supplies to address such overlooked and complex medical logistics and healthcare challenges. Through our products, we aim to expand access to healthcare, reduce environmental impacts, save costs, and improve the well-being of communities.
Why are medical logistics and supply chain operations such important and defining factors in achieving high quality healthcare?
While often overlooked and underappreciated, delivering on the five “rights” of medical logistics can make or break an emergency response, public health program, or clinical intervention. These five “rights” are having the right medical devices and supplies at the right place, at the right time, for the right price, and in the right quantity. In the worst-case scenario, which is shockingly all too common around the world, a failure in delivering on any of those “rights” can negatively impact morbidity and mortality. In recognition of this, supplies and devices are acknowledged as one of the four essential “S” ingredients of quality medical care (stuff, staff, space, and systems).
What is your current main project/product?
Our flagship patent-pending invention is a design for a compact and resource-saving pre-filled syringe. Though pre-filled syringes provide many clinical and public health benefits, switching away from vials and empty syringes to pre-filled syringes has led to fewer syringes fitting on pallets than before. This is because pre-filled syringes come with their plunger rod almost fully extended and waste significant space during sterilization, shipping, storage, and distribution. Our design has a 40% smaller packaging footprint relative to traditional pre-filled syringe designs. This saves shipping costs, reduces environmental impact, and will help bring the safety and quality benefits of pre-filled syringes to more patients around the world.
Who would be the end users for your compact and resource-saving pre-filled syringe?
End users could include both healthcare professionals and/or patients, depending on what medication or solution the syringe is filled with. Pre-filled syringes are used for a wide variety of products, ranging from sterile saline to heparin, pain relievers, contrast agents, and countless other injectable medications, so the applications and potential use cases are extensive. While anyone could end up using our product, it has the greatest potential for impact where there are elongated and complicated supply chains between the point of manufacture and use. This is because our product has a 40% smaller packaging footprint compared to the current standard design. This leads to significant reductions in costs, bottlenecks, and carbon emissions throughout the supply chain. This makes it more feasible and affordable to get pre-filled syringes to those at the end of long and challenging supply chains such as those living and/or working in low-resource, fragile, complex, remote, disaster, and/or emergency settings.
Where do you see your industry in the next few years?
We expect the medical device and supply industry will see and hopefully respond to the urgent need to develop products that are more responsive to the global challenges we’re faced with. This means developing products that have a reduced environmental footprint, are easier to move through the increasingly expensive and challenging global supply chain, that respond to the unique challenges faced by those in low-resource and/or remote settings, and that promote health equity and access for all. We have built our company with these values and needs at the forefront and aim to demonstrate how seemingly simple redesigns of medical products can yield impactful and substantial results.
What’s next for Pacto Medical? Are there exciting partnerships or products we can look forward to?
We’re continuing to develop, test, and refine our pre-filled syringe product in collaboration with stakeholders and potential users from around the world. This includes hands-on user testing and simulated clinical use cases, durability testing, and tooling design. To accomplish this, we’re grateful to be working with a number of excellent partner organizations and programs including the Harvard Innovation Labs, Forge, Green ProBono, and the NSF Spark Program at MIT.
Have there been any recent accomplishments or big wins for the team that you’d like to share?
We’re very grateful and fortunate to have received such a positive response to our flagship patent-pending pre-filled syringe product from a range of different communities. In no particular order, some of our recent big wins include:
- Winning an Ingenuity awards from the Harvard President’s Innovation Challenge
- Receiving funding and an innovation fellowship award from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
- Winning 1st place and the best business plan award in the University of Massachusetts Lowell Innovation Hub Clean Green Challenge
- Receiving two Spark Grants from the Harvard Innovations Lab
- Winning 2nd place and the people’s choice award in the Dartmouth College Entrepreneurs Forum Pitch Competition
- Being named as one of three finalists for the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT UK) Annual Award of Excellence in the category of “Freight Transport” (award ceremony and finalist announcement in September)
Where can people learn more about Pacto Medical?
We invite you to visit our website at https://www.pactomedical.com/ where you can also subscribe to our quarterly newsletter. We are also active on LinkedIn and Twitter/X.