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SickKids distributes capsule shredder device to support families of patients with sickle cell disease
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SickKids distributes capsule shredder device to support families of patients with sickle cell disease


Children's hospitals across Canada will soon receive Capsule Shredders – a device developed by a multidisciplinary team at SickKids that makes it easier for families of children with sickle cell disease to administer medication safely.

Today, on World Sickle Cell Day, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is pleased to announce it is helping to distribute more than 500 of its Capsule Shredder devices to children’s hospitals across Canada to help improve the medication administration process for young patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) and their families. 

SCD is an inherited blood disorder which can cause blockages in blood vessels, leading to various complications and chronic health issues. It is one of the world's most common genetic diseases, affecting at least 5,000 individuals in Canada, including children, and disproportionality impacting Black populations. 

Hydroxyurea, a medication used to treat SCD, is manufactured in 500 mg capsules, but an individualized dose is needed for paediatric patients. Manually breaking up the capsules to prepare a lower dose can be cumbersome and challenging for families and caregivers to perform, and it can release harmful aerosols. 

That’s why a multidisciplinary team of SickKids pharmacists, nurses and process improvement staff came together in 2016 to design and develop a 3D-prototype Capsule Shredder, a device that makes it easier for parents and caregivers of children with SCD to administer medication safely and economically. By shredding capsules and transferring the drug contents into dissolve-and-dose tubes, the device reduces aerosol risks and the need for manual manipulation.

A hand holding a Capsule Shredder, a large tube that has measurement increments along the side and has a cylindrical adaptor and pop-top cap screwed to the top of the tube.
Capsule Shredder developed at SickKids

The SickKids Capsule Shredder team sought the support of The Wilfred and Joyce Posluns Centre for Image-Guided Innovation and Therapeutic Intervention (PCIGITI) and the Industry Partnerships & Commercialization (IP&C) office, who worked together with the team to find manufacturing and distribution partners to help translate their research into an accessible, product that could be easily used by families. 

Through funding from the Black Opportunity Fund and facilitated by the SickKids Foundation, the Capsule Shredders will soon be made available to other hospitals to share with their patient families.  

At the heart of the Capsule Shredder's success lies our ability to identify a clinical challenge and assemble a talented team to tackle it head-on. By harnessing the collective expertise at SickKids, we transformed an idea into a practical solution that will empower patients and families by enabling an easy and safe method for delivering an essential disease-modifying medication," says Dr. Isaac Odame, Haematology Section Head at SickKids and Medical Director of the Global Sickle Cell Disease Network, who provided input on the utility and the potential clinical impact of the Capsule Shredder.  

By involving health-care experts, incorporating feedback from families and caregivers, and emphasizing durability and cost-effectiveness, our iterative development approach led to an innovative device that will help support patients with sickle cell disease,” says Thomas Looi, Project Director and Posluns Innovator, PCIGITI.

The development and distribution of the Capsule Shredder is a demonstration of SickKids’ commitment to improving patient care, leveraging innovation, and creating tangible solutions that positively impact the lives of patients and their families and caregivers. Through innovations like this, SickKids is actively working to advance equity and address health disparities 

Thank you to the inventor team behind this innovative device, which was initially funded through the Mary Jo Haddad Innovation Fund: 

  • Melina Cheong, Nurse Practitioner, Haemoglobinopathy Program 
  • Michael Hartman (Former), Director, Enterprise Project Management Office 
  • Edward Kenney (Retired), Senior Manager, Commercialization & Business Development 
  • Renu Lal, Clinical Director, Pharmacy  
  • Thomas Looi, Project Director and Posluns Innovator, Wilfred and Joyce Posluns Centre for Image Guided Innovation and Therapeutic Intervention 
  • Lynn Mack, Senior Clinical Manager, Paediatric Medicine 
  • Marcia Palmer, Clinical Nurse Coordinator, Haemoglobinopathy Program 
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