case-study

Driving affordable innovation for 50 million diabetics

Future Factory Labs Innovation & Technology

Studies by WHO estimate that for a low-income Indian family as much as 25% of their annual income is spent on diabetes management. In a world where one in five diabetics is India, this puts a huge financial burden on Indian patients. The market is characterized by high cost, highly protected IP driven solutions, most often unaffordable by such patients.

A formidable challenge

The Future Factory team defined the project objective as delivering a solution to meet vial + injection cost. This would bring the cost of the device to one tenth the global cost and make the product affordable. The challenge was to create designs that would not infringe on IP, there being over 100 patents held by global healthcare companies.
The project scope was complete from idea to delivery. The team first worked on innovation systematically, to find powerful ideas and create intellectual property. Then the team focused on design for successful adoption and use. Finally, the product was also tested and reviewed for production.

Product Insulin Pen
Industry Healthcare
Scope
  • Research
  • Design
  • Engineering
  • Innovation
  • Packaging
project

The innovation creates affordable healthcare for 50 million diabetes, delivering a world class disposable insulin pen at 1/10th global costs.

Innovating for low cost

The biggest cost factor, was the IP protection which ferociously drove up the price of the device. To create a low-cost device, the primary challenge was to innovate without infringment of any existing patent. The category was protected by over 100 patents held by global healthcare corporations.The team worked on improving the mechanism of the device in search of an IP opportunity. Starting from tear-downs of current devices, over 50 to 70 design concepts were created and 12 were shortlisted as working feasible ideas.

The team evaluated close to 15 working feasible ideas against existing IP documentation to finally shortlist a concept that had the potential of developing its own intellectual property.
The shortlisted concept used a unique reverse mechanism , to deliver insulin inspired by the common micrometer, in contrast to the expanding plunger used by most devices. The innovation stood its own over 100 existing patents, and was key in meeting the project requirements. The design was engineered, prototyped and tested to deliver a commercially feasible and manufacturable solution.

Designing for Use & the Danger of Re-use

For home use products administered through self-use, the explanation/ demonstration of the product is left to the patient himself, or the healthcare company’s sales interface. During patient user research, the team realised that most patients had early to moderate needle phobia, and therefore from a clinical perspective, it was important to deliver a reassuring design.The product delivers ease of reading, ease of administration, and feedback for overall ease of diabetic management. It works to deliver a non-intimidating, approachable aesthetic, and a more comfortable injectable experience. Focusing on accuracy in dosage setting, metering, and administration (especially for older patients) also became a critical focus area.

While the danger of AIDS due to re-use was limited (given that the product was re-used by the same patient), there were many others at risk.In India, the ecosystem of recyclers included the unofficial trash recyclers who would repackage and re-sell the product to new customers. Also, street children in metro cities, would rummage through trash and expose themselves to extreme risk by playing with discarded devices. The device was therefore designed to be completely transformed by use and impossible to re-use.Thereby fulfilling a responsibility to society at large, and to many who would otherwise be exposed to risk from inadvertent recyclable devices.

project
The Solution & its impact

The team created prototypes, tested the design-for-use and against healthcare certification requirements. The design was then taken through a series of development rounds with teams from manufacturing, vendor development, and financial planning. The Future Factory team finally delivered a manufacturing-ready product.
The innovation creates affordable healthcare for 50 million diabetes, delivering a world class disposable insulin pen at 1/10th global costs.The solution filed 2 patents, creating its own intellectual property.

The innovation creates affordable healthcare for 50 million diabetes, delivering a world class disposable insulin pen at 1/10th global costs.

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