MedSnap has prescription for the pharmaceutical industry
When Wired Magazine featured Birmingham’s MedSnap in a story last year, CEO Patrick Hymel probably didn’t imagine the article would end up leading to a whole new aspect to the company’s business.
But that’s what happened.
“I got a call after that story appeared, and at first I thought it was someone pulling my leg.” Hymel said. “The person told me they were from a big pharmaceutical company and wanted to talk to me.”
The result is the company’s new MedSnap Verify Services, which works with pharmaceutical companies for authentication and quality assurance of pills in their production lines. Hymel said it is largely complementary to the company’s existing MedSnap ID app for doctors and pharmacists.
“This new service evolved from what we learned about pills in circulation from the nearly three years of research from operating MedSnap ID,” Hymel said. “This evolved out of tracking the variants in the pharmaceutical industry, developing an application for one purpose, and then having customers come to us and say ‘Can you help us with this other set of problems?’”
Hymel said for the 4,500 unique pills in MedSnap’s system, the system keeps track of 15,000 visual variants— subtly different pill appearances due to variation in manufacturing process. After discussing with pharmaceutical industry experts, it was recognized that this level of visual precision could also be used to identify pills that may be counterfeit. Counterfeit medications pose a significant and increasing threat worldwide.
A report from Michigan State University shows that 700,000 die each year in Africa die annually from “consuming fake anti-malarial or tuberculosis drugs.” MedSnap’s solution could go a long way toward helping get these counterfeit drugs out of circulation by creating a way to identify them.
Hymel said the interest in the pharmaceutical industry has been strong so far, but that no details about specific companies that might partner with MedSnap are available yet.
MedSnap could hire a few more employees as it moves forward with MedSnap Verify Services, and Hymel credited his team with anticipating some of the growth and says the company still has enough space at Innovation Depot.
“This is the reason I’m an entrepreneur: We’re creating a business model where the amount of patients you can help and the amount of revenue you can bring in are correlated.”