Julia Anthony of SOLUtion Medical
Through personal experience with rare disease Julia Anthony identified an unmet need in the delivery of life-saving drugs and founded SOLUtion Medical, to develop a patient-friendly solution. She talks to RARE Revolution about her hopes to expand the reach of her product to benefit and empower more people in the future
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SOLUtion Medical is making patient-injected drug delivery safer, more efficacious, and easier by developing a one-step, pre-filled reconstituting autoinjector. Worldwide healthcare is trending towards more at-home treatments and pharma companies are seeking ways to deliver high-volume drugs for self-treatment in a timely manner. SOLUtion’s beachhead market is an adrenal crisis rescue autoinjector. Additionally, the TwistJectTM autoinjector is a platform product which can be used for other future indications including antipsychotic drugs, in vitro fertilization drugs, monoclonal antibodies, and cancer treatments.
What was the driving force in starting your own business in the rare disease space? Was there an unmet need you were responding to?
Both myself and my brother have salt-wasting congenital adrenal hyperplasia and have almost died due to crisis multiple times throughout our lives. I would argue that my brother’s health drove me to where SOLUtion is today, more so than my own. I decided to make an autoinjector for adrenal crisis—a tangible improvement to our health management that would not only save lives, but also evoke education and advocacy for our often overlooked, rare disease.
How does your business benefit the rare disease community?
SOLUtion Medical is developing a one-step injector for delivering adrenal crisis medication in a rescue situation. With our device, we plan to eliminate the need for cumbersome and confusing rescue kits, and replace those kits with a single, one-step device. In addition to the adrenal crisis rescue injection market, numerous drugs currently exist that must be mixed directly prior to injection. We envision our device as a platform which can be used for other future indications including anti-psychotic drugs, in vitro fertilization drugs, monoclonal antibodies, and cancer treatments.
Virtually everyone at risk from an adrenal crisis must carry a rescue kit, and these kits are not straightforward or easy to use. As a result, too few people inject themselves with rescue medication at the onset of an adrenal crisis resulting in longer hospital stays, lower quality of life, and even death. A simple, easy to use device will reduce the complexity and difficulties of injections, providing an EpiPen-like experience that is intended to improve compliance of rescue injections during an adrenal crisis.
By simplifying rescue injections, more sufferers of adrenal insufficiency will be empowered to carry and use their rescue medication. This will reduce mental burden, increase compliance, and improve the lives of those with adrenal insufficiency.
What advice, if any, did you get when setting up your business? Has there been anyone in particular who has been pivotal in supporting your business?
Some years ago, I was asked to participate as an alum of the Hun School of Princeton in Raider Reads Day on the topic of resilience. I stood in what was formerly Mr. Triechel’s chemistry classroom and presented throughout the day to students not much younger than myself. I citied books which discuss facing fear, social support, role models, and purpose, leaning into my healthcare background and weaving the topics of brain fitness and cognitive and emotional flexibility into the discussion. Ironically wrought with fear shrouded by a smile and a carefully curated PowerPoint, I left campus that day hopeful one of the many students I’d encountered would remember our discussions and find them helpful in the future.
As I reflect on SOLUtion Medical’s journey, I can’t help but realise how much the fire to learn and the grit to execute despite fear that day in Princeton, and every day since, have led to now. What we have and continue to achieve would not be possible without the many industry experts, mentors, team members, advocacy groups, and opportunities that have come along, and because of this fire and grit.
How do you manage the demands of running a business with your own health needs, those of someone you care for, or those of your employees?
I do my best to build in breaks for evenings with friends and travel when possible, and on a daily basis, walking and playing with my dog provides necessary mental breaks.
What advice do you have for someone starting their own business?
I cannot emphasise enough the importance of a team. Dig into your self-awareness—what superpowers do you bring to your work, and what areas of expertise do you lack? Bring energy to your idea, and rally others with skills which align and enhance your own to get involved through inspiration and enthusiasm.
What are the most rewarding aspects of establishing and running your own business?
When strangers say, ‘I learned something today’; When people living with adrenal diseases around the world write, ‘thank you for hearing us’; When investors describe our product as ‘elegant’ and ‘game-changing’—the challenge is well-worth the rewards of saved lives, shared knowledge, and user convenience. Knowing we are positively impacting peoples’ lives is rewarding for me not only as a human and designer, but also and especially as a young female entrepreneur living with a rare disease.
Conducting focus groups with future device users, including rare disease patients, families, and endocrinologists, is the most rewarding part of my work. The importance of including product users in the design and development process cannot be overstated.
What would you consider to be the greatest achievements of your business thus far?
One of our greatest achievements to date has been appearing on the NASDAQ board in Times Square in New York City.
What advice would you give someone considering working in the rare disease space?
Share your story. Having an at-times unpleasant health condition can be frustrating and lonely, especially when your condition is rare and/or misunderstood by others. Sharing stories creates an opportunity for collaboration and connection through empathy and learning. Though our specific circumstances and experiences differ, we as people with chronic rare conditions share a special kind of courage, resilience, and advocacy amongst us.
What are your hopes for the future of your business?
We expect to obtain approvals throughout the world so our device can be obtained by anyone at risk of an adrenal crisis regardless of location. Longer term, we envision our device as applicable to many different drugs and treatments, allowing more at-home usage of a variety of medications requiring mixing directly prior to injection.
If you hadn’t founded SOLUtion Medical, what was Plan B? What did your 10-year-old self want to be?
I always wanted to work for NASA looking for life in space. After studying biophysics and astronomy for two years, I decided there are enough problems here on Earth to be addressed to fulfil my curiosity and pivoted my career to focus on healthcare.
To find out more about the work of SOLUtion Medical please visit: