New Innovators: Pharmapod

Pharmapod founder Leonora O’Brien: niche product

Pharmapod founder Leonora O’Brien: niche product


Pharmacist Leonora O’Brien knows the pharmacy sector inside out having worked in community pharmacies, policy development and regulatory affairs at a national and EU level. Now she has decided to harness that knowledge to develop cloud-based management systems for the pharmacy sector through her newly-formed company, Pharmapod, which is based in Dublin’s National Digital Research Centre.

Following two and a half years of research and development the company’s first product, a medication-related incident reporting and learning management system, was launched in Ireland in November last year.

The company’s initial target market is the Republic’s 1,700 pharmacies followed by pharmacies in the UK and Europe, but its products have potential global reach.

Pharmapod’s software has been developed in Ireland and can be adapted for international markets with just a small amount of localisation.

Bespoke software
“The driver behind the system is patient safety and by law, all pharmacies must operate a structured incident and error handling system and be able to demonstrate their record keeping in relation to incidents that occur within their practice,” O’Brien says. “We have developed bespoke software that will help them demonstrate effective risk management, improve practice standards and facilitate full compliance with reporting regulations.”

The system will be sold to pharmacists on a SAS basis and will cost them around €25 a month for the launch module. “It’s easy to use and cost effective for the pharmacy sector both at community level and in hospitals. It also offers potential savings to the wider health service,” O’Brien says.

“Around 7 per cent of hospital admissions across Europe are due to adverse drug reactions. Every year there are around 197,000 medication-related deaths across Europe and the costs associated with them are around €79 billion. With our system details of errors can be recorded accurately and comprehensively, including all actions taken to minimise risks to future patients. Pharmapod members also receive regular reports containing useful analysis of incidents occurring nationally, allowing them to benefit from the experience of their peers.”

Start-up support
Pharmapod has received high potential start-up support from Enterprise Ireland and O’Brien estimates the global sales potential for the company’s first module at about €360 million. Three further modules are in the pipeline. The company is seeking investment to fund the next stage of its development. O’Brien is part of the Going for Growth female mentoring programme and says the support and experience shared with her on a voluntary basis by its members has been invaluable in launching her business.

O’Brien says there is no one else offering this type of niche product on the market. “We have protected the IP to the extent that we can, but probably our biggest advantage is our experience and knowledge. It would take someone with a very specialised background to replicate what we're doing,” she says.