Steinbeis experts provide support with the development of needs-based medication
Good health is the most valuable personal possession there is. When it’s threatened, tablets might help. But the problem with pills is that they contain fixed proportions of ingredients, whether you need a strong dose or there is actually a risk of negative side effects from an overdose. kg-pharma wants to solve this problem with a new tablet press that will produce tablets in different sizes and batches containing a mixture of active substances and filling materials. The idea is to optimize the dosage of pharmaceutical agents in each tablet. The firm is making use of a go-inno innovation voucher from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and is receiving the support of experts at the Steinbeis Research Center for Simulation.
Tablets play an essential role in health care. Not only are they needed when people are sick, they are also used prophylactically, for example as a nutritional supplement. All currently available medicines are based on statistically defined standards, which dictate the quantity of active ingredients they may contain. The tablet press developed by kg-pharma makes it possible to produce personalized medication matched to each patient, in order to treat every individual case based on needs.
SMALL TEST – BIG IMPACT
Many years of experience in concept development, engineering design, and the commercialization of small tablet presses made it possible for kg-pharma to take all technological, pharmacological, and product-related factors into account while working on its development. Despite this, every new development needs to consider certain influences to make sure the concept takes heed of market requirements. Support from the go-inno initiative allowed kg-pharma to call on help from the Steinbeis Research Center for Simulation, which was asked to use a computer simulation to produce a 3D-printed mock-up of the product concept. This could be presented to potential customers to investigate the marketability of the planned device. Based on a survey of potential users, the experts assessed whether the current concept is going in the right direction and if any other factors need to be taken into account from a user perspective. It was only a small test but it had a big impact, since professional users such as drugstore owners have different expectations of such a system compared to private end users.
MOVING FROM ANALYSIS TO THE DECISION
The support provided by the experienced consultants at the Steinbeis Research Center made it possible to make a quick functional sample through simulation, and this sample was also used for the survey. The results of the survey provided a reliable foundation for decision-making so that the innovative concept could be taken to the next stage. Analyzing the potential of the concept showed that kg-pharma should concentrate first on professional users. An important factor among this group is adaptability of use such that a wide range of variables can be taken into account for the end products (tablets). With (specialized) end users, there is a strong focus on preconfigured tablets and it should be possible to use the device without specialist knowledge. The two concepts entail different requirements when it comes to the underlying principle and the design this necessitates. By concentrating first on application scenarios and simultaneously thinking about any required overlaps with other application scenarios, it will be possible for professional users to gather more experience working with the device, and this can be tapped into by untrained end users to help with simplified application options. The next step for the project will be to draft a launch concept and plan each individual stage of development.
Ruben Maier (author)
Steinbeis Research Center for Simulation (Stuttgart)
Mario Dompke (author)
Director, Department of Innovation Orientation and Transfer
German Aerospace Center e.V. (Bonn)
kg-pharma GmbH & Co. KG (Scharbeutz)