Lowcountry firm nears finish line to manufacture innovative pillbox out of state

Although the Charleston-based pharmaceutical company, PharmRight, is nearing the day its cloud-connected pillbox, Livi, will hit the market, the product will be manufactured in Maine, not South Carolina.

In February, the company signed a deal with Enercon, a Maine company, to manufacture the dispensers.

Randy Parker, CFO of PharmRight, said Enercon was chosen because of its ability to create an FDA compliant product.

“We explored a couple of possible manufacturing sites in South Carolina, but neither was certified or registered to produce an FDA Class 2 device like we were producing,” Parker said. “Enercom was not only fully FDA 1, 2 and 3 certified and registered, but also had the experience needed in making devices, like Livi.”

Although the company will not build the products in the Palmetto State, Parker said the company plans on staying in South Carolina and looks to expand its workforce from five to 45 in the coming years.

In April, PharmRight entered into an agreement with Tidewater Pharmacies to serve Tidewater’s customers in the Lowcountry.

“We see Livi as a natural extension of our commitment to improve the lives of Lowcountry residents,” said Chad Straughan, owner of Tidewater.

“Taking your medication as prescribed is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy,” he said. “Given some patients extensive medication regimens, Livi will make filling, dispensing, and administering medications seamless for patients, families, and caregivers.”

For the past two years, PharmRight has racked up $5 million in investments, as well as dozens of commitments to purchase Livi, a “smart” medicine dispenser.

Working with a cloud-based design, the Keurig-like medicine dispenser sits on a patient’s countertop and holds up to 15 different medications. Programmed by a mobile device or web browser, the dispenser sorts all of the medications by size and weight.

At the appropriate times, Livi dispenses the required pills for the patient and alerts them when it’s time to take their medication. The dispenser also alerts patients of any non-pill medications to take, such as liquids, topical applications or refrigerated medications.

If a dose is missed, or a medication refill is needed, Livi automatically alerts care-givers via text or email. It also stores data on what the patient has taken and how frequently for medical personnel and caregivers.

The company has already produced five machines, and looks to create as many as 75 to test on a limited basis over the next year until getting FDA approval – anticipated either later this year, or early in 2017.

Using the cell phone revenue model, PharmRight plans to charge its clients $100 a month for the service. But the products are more business-to-business instead of direct to consumer.

Parker said the company is focusing on reaching specialized pharmacies, hospitals with home care and senior care facilities at the moment. The company said it has commitments from a number of entities including retirement communities and pharmacies, for more than 1,200 machines.

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