Protecting Temperature Sensitive Medicines against Power Outages
A number of medicines, like insulin and many other lifesaving injectables, need to be stored at cold temperatures for maintaining their effectiveness. Since power situations is unreliable in large parts of India and other developing countries, having a refrigerator and power connection alone do not ensure medicines stored in them are still safe and effective. WHO recommended ice lined refrigerators are costly and difficult to maintain in remote setting.
MediSafe is a simple add-on, which is being designed to provide thermal backup for conventional refrigerators during periods of power outage of up to 4 hours. Using a specially selected phase change material (PCM) which undergoes phase change around 10°C the MediSafe does not need to be placed in freezer and can be directly placed in regular section of the refrigerator. When placed in the refrigerator the PCM inside solidifies while the power is available. During the power outage, PCM slowly melts and maintains the cooling for extended duration like melting ice. A simple to understand color changing temperature indicator to give a visual indication of storage conditions to the user.
MediSafe will be available in two different form factors. While MediSafe–B is a small storage box for storing only critical medicines at home or in a small clinic, MediSafe-P is a flat panel design for use in primary healthcare centers and dispensaries for providing thermal backup for entire refrigerators.
MediSafe-electric which is under consideration, is an independent cooling device combining peltier cooling with power backup based on PCM described above.
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Latest Updates from MediSafe Project:
The inspiration for low cost refrigeration project come from Dr. Madhukara at St. John’s Hospital, Bangalore. During his service at a remote location in rural Karnataka/Tamilnadu, he found that number of poor diabetes patient were provided with Insulin through government programs but they had in adequate control control of their blood sugar levels. The reason was lack of options to keep the Insulin cold. Insulin as many you might know should be store between 2° and 8°C to maintain its effectiveness.
On deeper inspection the problem is more widespread than cases encountered by Dr. Madhukara. A large section of population in India and other part of world still lack refrigeration solution at home. Even when fridge is available electric supply is limited to few hours a day. How in this case can an insulin dependent diabetes patient expected to store his medicines?
Lack of reliable refrigeration is also a challenge faced by dispensaries and PHCs in tier-II, teir-III cities.
So this was the challenge posed by Dr. Madhukara : Can we design an affordable (less than Rs. 500 /10$) refrigeration solution for keeping few vials of Insulin (or other temperature sensitive medicines) in recommended temperature range with limited or no use of grid electricity.
As challenging as it may sound, I have been working on some ideas around this and will post them in due course. Your thoughts, ideas, comments welcome..