An online telehealth clinic for children on the autism spectrum and a marine-friendly sunscreen alternative were among the ideas pitched to judges at PSA22’s Pharmacy Shark Tank.
Five finalists, five concepts. Three judges, and three sums of $3,000 up for grabs.
That was the state of play in the afternoon session of Day 1 of PSA22, when a handful of pharmacists from across the country pitched their innovative ideas to a trio of investors.
Each finalist in PSA’s Pharmacy Shark Tank was given five minutes to convince the sharks why their pitch deserved investment.
A People’s Choice Award, chosen by audience poll, was also up for grabs.
The session, sponsored by Viatris, came after a callout for ideas that address unmet clinical needs and advance patient care and pharmacy practice across all settings.
The entries were judged by PSA CEO Mark Kinsela, PSA CFO Nick Foster, and the Head of Operations – ANZ at Viatris, Robert Elliott.
When it came to the contestants, each had a distinct idea and a clear passion for positive change in the industry – but at the end of the day, there was a standout entry for judges and audience members alike.
Ideas for change
Up first was Curtis Teed MPS of Moree Balo Street Pharmacy, who in his pitch stressed the need for a solution to the abundance of plastic packaging in the industry, including that used in dose administration aids.
Mr Teed’s aim was to create a packaging product equivalent to plastic made from sustainable sources such as polylactic acid, and reduce the masses of single-use plastics sent to landfill.
Melbourne’s Jenny Kirschner, by contrast, had her sights set on medication adherence and social isolation in her presentation.
Accredited in Mental Health First Aid, she requested the sharks’ investment to boost funding for her initiative, Pharmacy Addressing Loneliness and Social Isolation (PALS).
‘The longing for interpersonal intimacy stays with every human being from infancy, and there is no human being who is not threatened by its loss,’ Ms Kirschner said.
PALS is a bespoke chat-line service aimed at providing aged care residents with human support and care, and reducing loneliness in that community.
Personalised support for individuals in need was also front of mind for Yvette Anderson, the creator of The Spectrum Pharmacist, who intentionally set out to ‘pull on the heartstrings’ by sharing a story close to home.
As the mother of two boys on the autism spectrum, Ms Anderson set up The Spectrum Pharmacist to improve support for families such as hers.
‘Neurodevelopmental conditions are lifelong, but there isn’t the awareness, education or inclusion that there is for other conditions,’ she told the sharks.
Her pitch was to create an online telehealth clinic that would foster knowledge sharing and medical support from an expert.
Christopher Piggott FPS of Piggott’s Pharmacy was up next, pitching a non-toxic, marine-friendly skin cream additive that aims to minimise UV-induced skin damage – and thereby offset the rising incidence of melanoma in Australia.
In a lively presentation, Mr Piggott pointed to the use of UV blockers in sunscreen as contributing to the damage of marine life and ecosystems.
Sunit Ruparelia MPS of Terry White Penrith, a past recipient of funds from the Pharmacy Shark Tank, pondered the question ‘How can we vaccinate in an outbreak, differently?’ when seeking investment from the sharks.
It was that question that led to the creation of ConcertRx, software that aims to streamline customer vaccination journeys at a pharmacy level.
ConcertRx has already been put into use at a number of pharmacies, but it was the further expansion of the project – such as integration with dispensing software and special orders – that had it seeking the judges’ investment.
— Anna Barwick MPS (@IndispensablePh) July 29, 2022
Moment of justice
After a period of deliberation, the sharks came in for a bite.
‘All pitches today were of a very high standard,’ Mr Kinsela said of the contestants. ‘It’s wonderful to have such breadth across the group.’
Ultimately, it was Ms Anderson’s initiative that attracted the highest praise, with both Mr Kinsela and Mr Elliott electing to invest their entire funds in The Spectrum Pharmacist.
‘I had a personal reason for my investment,’ Mr Elliott said. ‘I have a son with autism and realise, as a parent, the difficulties [for families].’
Mr Foster chose to allocate his funding towards PALS, congratulating Ms Kirschner’s worthwhile idea and execution.
But the praise for The Spectrum Pharmacist didn’t stop there – an emotional and grateful Ms Anderson also attracted the most votes and was awarded the People’s Choice Award.
Mr Ruparelia’s ConcertRx technology was the runner-up.
With Viatris currently making a significant investment in dermatology as a research development area, Mr Elliott also notified Mr Piggott that he would introduce them to Viatris’ business development team to discuss potential future collaboration.
See who won cash in last year’s Pharmacy Shark Tank here.