New Australian asthma invention provides an incentive for children to inhale their medication correctly

Parents with asthmatic children often experience difficulty with their children resisting medication, particularly using the recommended ‘spacer’ devices which separate the drug dispensing pMDI or ‘puffer’ and the mask through which children inhale their medicine. Many children find these standard spacer tubes threatening or, in the case of older children, boring.

For this reason parents would be interested to learn of an Australian invention, the Funhaler. The Funhaler was specifically designed to help parents with the daunting task of administering medication to asthmatic children. The Funhaler is a new paediatric spacer that can be fitted to a range of standard asthma medication delivery devices. The Funhaler introduces an incentive for children to inhale their medication correctly.  As the children use the Funhaler a whistle sounds and a disk spins. 

You can view (and hear) the Funhaler here: (http://www.funhaler.com).  Children responded exceptionally well in clinical trials and the owner, Visiomed Group Limited (visiomed.com.au) have the data to support this claim.  Two scientific papers describing these trials have been published on the Funhaler, including the leading European Paediatrics journal. The study found that use of the Funhaler significantly improved the frequency with which regular preventer medication is offered to asthmatic children.  Using the Funhaler also improved the medication technique of children by 60%. Other trials have established that the Funhaler incentive module does not compromise drug delivery.  Further trials of the device are in progress, funded by a major grant of about $1 million from the National Institute of Health in the US, and involving the Institute for Child Health Research which is headed by Australian of the Year, Fiona Stanley.

Market acceptance of the Funhaler is expected to be strong with key opinion leaders such as paediatricians and respiratory physicians and the Asthma Foundations in all Australian states supporting the Funhaler initiative.  In a market research survey, 94% of parents preferred the Funhaler to a conventional spacer device. 

Visiomed Group Ltd is concentrating on the enormous international markets for this device.  For example they have recently signed a collaboration deal with Pari (one of the world's largest asthma device manufacturers) regarding incorporating the Funhaler incentive into their asthma spacer device, the Vortex spacer.   Visiomed expects to submit applications for regulatory clearance of the device in the US (FDA) and Europe later this year.  If successful, the Funhaler could be in these major markets next year.  Visiomed also plans to make the Funhaler available in Australia soon.

But won’t children tire of the incentives in the Funhaler over time?  The good news for parents is that Visiomed Group has anticipated this issue and designed the device to be modular. The Funhaler circuit allows possibility of interchanging new toys with old toys on the device. Because the Funhaler patents cover any toy in the circuit, the company hopes to be able to produce a number of alternative toys in the future without the need for separate patent protection. Patents for the Funhaler are already granted in a number of countries including Australia and the US. Who knows…if they are right….our children could be asking for Funhaler incentive toys for Christmas!

[email protected], www.casehealth.com.au

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