Irish software company Pharmapod secures nearly €2m in investment

Company to treble headcount over next two years as it targets global growth

Pharmapod, an Irish software company that has developed a cloud-based platform to reduce medication errors for patients, has secured three million Canadian dollars (€1.94 million) in investment from a leading pharmaceutical body.

The investment comes less than a year after the company won a competitive tender to implement a medication error reporting system across more than 4,300 pharmacies in Ontario in what is the largest safety programme of its kind established in Canada.

Pharmapod intends to use the investment from the Canadian Pharmacists Association to expand further in Canada and into other geographical markets. The company, which is also active in Ireland and Britain, plans to treble its employee numbers from 16 to 48 people over the next two years.

Established in 2012 by chief executive Leonora O’Brien, Pharmapod has created a secure application that enables pharmacists to record and share medication-related incidents.

Hospital admissions

Between 5 per cent and 8 per cent of all hospital admissions are estimated to be due to medication errors, which are, for the most part, preventable.

A recent study from York University in England revealed there are about 22,000 deaths a year in the UK alone that are due, in part, to medication errors. Such mistakes are estimated to cost as much as $42 billion globally each year and the issue has become a key focus for the United Nations' World Health Organisation. In 2017, it announced its third global patient safety challenge, targeting a 50 per cent reduction in medication-related harm globally within five years.

“We have become a go-to place for data,” said Ms O’Brien. “Prior to our platform being developed, a lot of knowledge gained about errors would often stay locked within individual pharmacies. A doctor might learn from a mistake, as might a pharmacist, but it normally wouldn’t go beyond this. Now, though, healthcare professionals have a way to share information and better monitor risks in a way that also greatly improves transparency.”

Pharmapod, which previously participated in the National Digital Research Centre’s LaunchPad accelerator programme, had raised €1.87 million in funding prior to the latest investment. Ms O’Brien said the company was focused on launching its product across the world.

"The [United] States is definitely on our roadmap, as is Australia and Europe. But we're going global with this. There is a huge demand for the platform worldwide and we're keen to take advantage of it," said Ms O'Brien.

The entrepreneur, who has more than 20 years' experience working in the pharmacy sector, including working as chief pharmacist at Unicare and as a governance and development consultant for the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland, is the first Irish woman to be selected for EY's year-long Entrepreneurial Winning Women leadership programme. She also previously won the Cartier Women's Initiative Award for Europe.

Ms O’Brien said she established Pharmapod as she felt compelled to dedicate her career to the issue of resolving medication errors.

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