Introducing an exciting innovation in the effort to reduce HIV transmission to newborns
The drugs aren’t new, but this new delivery system provides an innovative solution to on-going obstacles AND is amazingly simple. The Pratt Pouch is a small package resembling the ketchup that comes with your takeout, but the Pratt Pouch is filled with a precise dose of antiretroviral drugs. Studies have shown that immediate treatment of newborns with antiretrovirals significantly reduces HIV transmission from mother to baby. These drugs have been readily administered in the clinic setting but the challenge continues to be in areas where women deliver at home. The drugs, in a single dose Pratt Pouch, have a remarkable shelf life of 12 months.
How is it distributed and administered?
A local pharmacist prepares individual doses in a sanitary setting, sealing each packet with a heat sealer and gathering them to be distributed later. These user-friendly packages are simply torn open and the suspension gel dripped into the newborn’s mouth.
In areas with prenatal care, an expectant mother who is HIV positive receives the required dose(s) well in advance of delivery to be administered in privacy of her own home. The Pratt Pouch can be made available at regional clinics or distributed as part of outreach trips by community health workers. The small size and home use make the Pratt Pouch discreet thereby helping address the on-going stigma associated with HIV.
At a starting cost $0.15/each, the Pratt Pouch is remarkably cost effective way to significantly raise the percentage of at-risk babies given these life-saving medications. The Pratt Pouch can be ordered in bulk or as part of a complete kit that includes everything needed (except the drugs) to prepare the pouches locally. A clinic needs to be pre-screened to ensure that the technique (how is this done? Is it done by Maternova?)
What about adequate labeling for each region?
Since the Pratt Pouch is filled by local pharmacists, the directions can written for the local area and be consistent with government regulations.
How was this innovative yet seemingly simple product developed and tested?
The Pratt Pouch was developed at the Development World Healthcare Technologies Lab of Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering and was tested in successful clinical trials in Ecuador, Zambia and Tanzania.
Can this delivery system / packaging be used for other medications?
At this point the Pratt Pouch has been tested for the HIV antiretroviral, but with further testing we hope to bring this technology to other medications as well.
Photo credit: Marc-Grégor Campredon.
Blog post by Paula McGovern