Vitapul Injectables is on a mission to save lives by improving the treatment of severe allergic reactions. The student founders are developing a device to inject epinephrine, a drug that narrows blood vessels and opens airways in lungs, in a way that is cheaper and more accessible than existing products like the EpiPen.
Recently, EpiPen manufacturers have been questioned due to rising prices and limited pharmacological changes, causing some people’s health to be at risk, according to the student team.
The team consists of University of Utah medical students Suzanna Ohlsen, Brian Parker, Trent Perry, Alejandro Blitch, and Teryn Holeman, and MBA graduate Alex Huhn. They believe they can make a better product by separating the active ingredient, epinephrine, in a powdered or “dust” form until just before injection. The uniqueness of this product is in the company’s name — “vitapul” is Latin for “bringing dust to life.”
Not only does the company aim to improve shelflife and accessibility, but Parker explained how they will continue to do more. “Every three minutes, one person is on their way to a hospital in an ambulance due to an anaphylactic (or severe allergic) reaction,” he said. “In Utah, basic level EMT’s are not allowed to carry epinephrine. Part of our mission is to work with policymakers and take these steps as well to improve accessibility.”
Vitapul Injectables has already achieved some success. It was awarded a seed grant from the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute from the monthly Get Seeded program to help them further with testing and securing a patent which they will be working on simultaneously. They were also awarded “Best in the Business” from the Bench to Bedside medical innovation competition in 2019 and won the University of Utah Opportunity Quest in 2020.
Find this article and a lot more in the 2020 “Student Innovation @ the U” report. The publication is presented by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate student innovators, change-makers, and entrepreneurs.