UW School of Pharmacy students win $5,000 for ‘innovative business model’

The Pharmasave business competition is held annually and has resulted in three real-world businesses

A team of third-year University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy students has won a $5,000 prize for their innovative pharmaceutical business model.

Held annually, the Pharmasave business competition allows students to work in teams to create a startup that solves a current health care problem in accordance with the Ontario Health Care Act by pitching their ideas to a panel of pharmacists, entrepreneurs and financial advisors. to solve

“Each year, the Pharmasave business competition proves that pharmacists can be entrepreneurs,” said Dean Pacey, professor in the School of Pharmacy. Our course and competition are unique to this faculty and provide an opportunity for students to practice entrepreneurial skills. Engaging with the strong startup ecosystem in our community.”

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This year’s winning team—Irina Zhirnova, Amanda Nicole Helka, and Allie Meyer—took home the title with their business, URinCharge. The team focused on connecting patients and pharmacists to solve pressing women’s health issues and surveyed a group of pharmacists in Ontario to demonstrate the project and provide feedback.

While Ontario pharmacists can prescribe for minor ailments, it’s voluntary and only those who are certified and participating can prescribe, which can make it difficult to find participating pharmacists to address urgent illnesses.

“Technology is growing exponentially, and there seems to be an app for everything on the market,” Girnova said. “

Using GPS location, Teams’ app allows a person experiencing UTI symptoms to call the pharmacy of their choice and book an appointment within two hours. The app lists all pharmacies that report having appointments available to allow the patient to choose which location and time works best for them.

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Once the app matches the user with the pharmacy, depending on the patient’s condition, the doctor will be referred or the drugs prescribed by him. If the consultation leads to a prescription, the patient can choose the pharmacy of his choice to fill the prescription.

“Our goal is to help people who experience UTIs, usually women, access care in a way that doesn’t force them to take time off work and impact their lives,” Helka said. If the past two to three years have taught us anything, it’s that Canada’s health care landscape will continue to face disruptive change in the coming decades.

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Winning the competition assured the team that their idea had strong potential for real-world application. This competition has resulted in at least three real-world businesses in the past.

“It was amazing to see drugmakers talk about the potential of our idea,” Meyer said.

The team hopes to use the prize money to develop the app with the software engineer and app developer they consulted with after prescribing for minor ailments took off in Ontario.

“This project was close to our hearts,” Girnova said. Historically, women’s health has not been studied and excluded from clinical trials. Side effects and drug metabolism may vary among women, and thus much remains to be investigated. “It is very important to support the pharmaceutical profession and women.”



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