The Auto-Disable Syringe That's Saved Over 9 Million Lives |A Q&A With Marc Koska
At 23, Marc Koska designed a syringe that breaks once it’s been used. Taking him three minutes to design, Marc battled for 17 years to manufacture, patent and distribute the K1 Auto-Disable. An invention that's saved over nine million lives.
We sat down with Marc to talk about his journey. From co-founding Star Syringe in 1991, to beginning again with a new venture called ApiJect, which will be a life saver and life giver to billions. His unshakable patience and unwavering vision to stop the spread of a killer virus make Marc a truly admirable entrepreneur and speaker.
Hi Marc. What inspired you to invent this life-saving syringe?
What I had observed is that syringes are used a number of times on innocent patients, from patient to patient. If someone is ill, that illness can go from one person to the other who is injected. I designed a syringe that can be made on the same equipment for the same price that can be used in the same way, but that breaks after use. It's called an auto-disable syringe, which means that injections can be given exactly the way that they are meant to be!
What challenges did you face on the road from designing, to syringe, to it reaching the market?
I suppose looking back, it's the typical disruption story. A bright idea, or a challenging idea, that goes against an ingrained market and industrial base for producing medical products. There was all the normal fight back from industries, from organisations, from standards committees saying, "We're not ready for this radical change yet, so everything was thrown at me: from death-threats, to factories being bull-dozed on opening, to bribery and organisations taking away tenders and contracts from us. I went through the whole range of challenges on the journey.
What lessons can audiences learn from your incredible story?
I guess the lessons that people enjoy hearing about are that I didn't sell one of my products for 17 years, so there's an element of persistance in that. On how I kept going and overcame those barriers and challenges over that amount of time. What's more, when I did get there eventually, the job wasn't done. Even though the product was in the market, I still had to force through legislation to create demand for these products in the marketplace - generically. I fought not just for my products, but for the whole industry to change.
What more do you think needs to be done?
There are still an alarming number of casualties of primary healthcare especially in Developing World Countries and this poses an incredible problem. Personally I have ‘collected’ a large number of observations first hand that I know, if solved, would be hugely beneficial.
My challenge has been to align these observations into categories and to understand what the problem is behind, or in front of them. This way I have been able to see a system or chain of issues. The challenge now is to economically and environmentally create a solution that improves primary healthcare across the world for billions.
What's next for you?
To deliver what is needed to reduce the existing problems with a small change to the system. I have recently filed patents for a new way of packaging, transporting and delivering injectable drugs, and in the last year this has been taken up by the US Government. This endorsement and production will allow a system change to flourish all over the world and although plenty of hard work and challenges lie ahead, my aim is to save many more needless infections, and boom delivery of essential medicines to all.
For more info about Marc or any of our speakers, call us on +44 (0) 20 7607 7070 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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