An invention which saved millions of lives

3172624911_e089f10034_oAn invention was made to stop the spread of a deadly disease caused by reused syringe. The credit to this invention goes to Marc Andrew Koska. He is best known for inventing the non-reusable K1 auto-disable syringe, thus preventing the medical transmission of blood-borne diseases.

In 1984 Koska read a newspaper article predicting the transmission of HIV through the reuse of needles and syringes. After a year of intense study, he concluded that syringe manufacture was the key to the problemKoska designed a syringe (K1) that could be made on existing equipment with a small modification. It was made from the same materials and could be used in the same way as a normal syringe so that healthcare professionals would not have to retrain. K1 syringes cannot be used again so the next patient will also have a sterile and safe injection.

In November 2008, Marc and a SafePoint Trust team led a major media and public-awareness campaign throughout India in an attempt to do something about the prevalence of unsafe injections and the resultant illness and death that they cause in that country. They traveled throughout India giving their One Injection, One Syringe message to the media at press conferences for over a week.

The syringe locks and breaks if one attempts to use it a second time. “But, I took 17 years to sell the first syringe. I faced tremendous resistance from various quarters, including governments I approached. Our first syringe was sold to Unicef in 2003. Since then, 1.5 billion syringes have sold out.

Incidentally, we don’t manufacture them. We just license the products through a company set up, called Star Syringe. This is not to be confused with my charity, Safepoint, which runs the campaign for safe injections for everyone. In fact, I don’t route the royalities from sales of syringes into the charity. That would be nepotism. Safepoint runs on funds raised from well-meaning friends and relatives,” remarks Koska.

His list of patents & Awards:

  1. US5047017 discloses a disposable syringe which can only be used once to prevent transmission of blood-borne diseases such as AIDS which has priority date of Jun 25, 1987.
  2. US6368306B1 relates to auto-destruct syringe which can be rendered unfit for further use after one injection which has priority date of Jul 15, 1996
  3. US8366656 relates to a syringe having a resilient part in order to facilitate an initial aspiration which also reduces the chance of pain to the patient during aspiration procedure. This patent has priority date of Apr 25, 2006.
  4. US8226604 discloses a needle stick prevention device needle stick injury generally occurs in a medical environment before or after use of a syringe, when the user accidentally sticks the needle into oneself. This patent has priority date of Jul 12, 2007.

Awards:

  1. The Economist’s Innovation Award 2011
  2. Sussex University Honorary Doctorate
  3. Queens Award 13th October 2006
  4. Tech Award 2008
  5. IVCA Clarion Awards 2007
  6. Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Highly Commended, National Business Awards-2005
  7. British Invention of the Year 2004
  8. Special Award for Contribution toward Development of Safe Syringes- by the Federal Minister of Health, Pakistan in 2005.

Photo Credit: Hittatswitch /www.flickr.com / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Ms. Akshatha Karthik & Mr. Senthil Kumar

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