Sue Carr holds an all-in-one filter and needle that she developed.
Alumni Focus | 5/13/2024

From Pharmacist to Entrepreneur: Alum Creates Safer Medication Withdrawal Device

By Jennifer Persons

Sue Carr, RPh, showcases her patented all-in-one filter and needle device at the Maryland Technolody Development Corporation's Legislative Technology Showcase in March 2024.

Sue Carr holds an all-in-one filter and needle that she developed.
Sue Carr, RPh, showcases her patented all-in-one filter and needle device at the Maryland Technolody Development Corporation's Legislative Technology Showcase in March 2024.

MCPHS alum Sue Carr, RPh, developed an all-in-one filter and needle for medications stored in ampoules.

When she was a student at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS), Sue Carr worked in the pharmacy at Faulkner Hospital in Jamaica Plain. She would prepare large batches of IV bags, injecting them with medications from ampoules, which are small glass vials.

Carr broke off the top of the ampoule, an action that sends tiny shards of glass into the medication. Then, she extracted the medication into a syringe using a filter needle, removed the filter needle, and put a clean needle onto the syringe before injecting the drug into the IV bag.

“It was tedious switching so many needles, and I kept sticking myself,” Carr, RPh, recalled. “I went to my director and told him there had to be a better way. He told me if I could come up with one, I’d be a millionaire. It’s never been about money, but I never forgot that.”

Decades later, Carr has a solution. Her patented FROG® (Filter Removal of Glass) is an all-in-one filter needle device that allows technicians and providers to draw medication from ampoules without switching needles. Carr’s company, CarrTech Corp., is submitting FROG® for FDA approval.

Carr’s research showed that 82 million ampoules are opened every day in the U.S., and 47 percent of healthcare providers suffer needle sticks during the filtering process. Medications commonly stored in ampoules include morphine, epinephrine, fentanyl, propofol, and Vitamin K.

“This is the only device of its kind, designed to save time, money, and most importantly, lives,” Carr said.

Finding Her ‘Why’

Carr graduated from MCPHS in December of 1984 and began her career at a CVS Pharmacy in Northern Virginia near her hometown. She spent 17 years with the company, managing stores across Virginia and Maryland. During that time, she met her husband and had two sons.

But something about hospital pharmacy still intrigued her. She made the switch, specializing in ICU pharmacy.

“I continued to see the same problem with ampoules that I saw in college,” Carr said. “My technicians struggled every time they had to filter a medication. They also weren’t filtering in emergencies to save time. It started to bother me more and more.”

Carr explained that skipping the filtering process could present new dangers for the patient.

“If you don’t filter, glass shards can contaminate the patient’s bloodstream, ending up in the organs, including the heart and lungs,” she explained. “The shards can cause internal bleeding and other serious consequences, possibly death.”

While working in the hospital, Carr decided it was time for her to do something.

“I didn’t know really know how to start, but I just knew I had to come up with a solution,” she said. “It became my why.”

Carr started reaching out to her contacts, people she thought could help. She reconnected with a lawyer she knew during her retail pharmacy days. They secured her first patent in 2014, but when she took her design to a medical device manufacturer, they told her they couldn’t build it.

“I had a patent, but I didn’t know what I was doing,” Carr said. “I went from really, really high to really, really low.”

Still, Carr kept trying. Eventually, she connected with another medical device engineering company, and together, they developed the first working prototype of the all-in-one filter and needle device. Carr received her second patent in 2018.

“I worked all day, took care of my kids, and then would work on this,” she remembered. “It became an obsession. It had to be, or else I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere.”

Putting FROG® Into the World

In 2019, Carr made the leap and joined CarrTech Corp. full-time. She said promoting her business, building her entrepreneurial skills, and networking needed her full attention if the company was going to succeed. She dedicated her time to business classes, getting involved with entrepreneurial organizations, connecting with possible investors, and promoting her company.

“The first time I watched a pitch competition, I remember thinking there was no way I could get up there and speak in front of people,” she said. “It’s one of the hardest and scariest things I had to do, and I was horrible at it in the beginning.”

But Carr’s skills improved. She entered pitch competitions and started placing, winning prize money, and advancing her business. All the while, she continued developing FROG® and now holds four U.S. patents—including an international Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) patent—and one Canadian patent. She also remains President of CarrTech Corp.

“At one of the pitch competitions, I won a bottle of champagne, which I saved for FDA submission,” Carr said. “Now, I’m saving it for approval.”

CarrTech, Corp. submitted FROG® for FDA approval earlier this year. Regulators provided feedback and requested additional tests, and Carr said she hopes to receive approval later this year. After more than a decade of work developing FROG®, Carr plans a soft launch this fall, sending the device to hospitals across the Washington, D.C. metro area.

“If I can save just one life, then my journey has been worth it,” she said.

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