Deal Flow

Aspiera Medical launches product study with Cranston Senior Enrichment Center

Study to focus on firm’s ointment and its success in treating shingles

Courtesy of Aspiera Medical

The shingles skincare ointment developed by Aspiera Medical, a Woonsocket-based firm, is part of a new product study with the Cranston Senior Enrichment Center. It will also be launched nationally in Walgreens beginning in March.

By Richard Asinof
Posted 1/12/15
The launch of a new product study of a shingles ointment by a Woonsocket-based firm, Aspiera Medical, precedes the national launch of its product, Terrasil Shingles Skincare Ointment, in Walgreens. The product study collaboration with Cranston Senior Services came about in part because of connections made through MedMates.
How will the new CommerceRI leadership under Stefan Pryor seek to prioritize the agency’s support for innovative biomedical firms such as Aspiera Medical as it moves its products into the national retail market? Are there ways that the state can invest and support the development of MedMates, similarly to the way that Massachusetts supported the growth of MassMedic? What kinds of collaborative research support can be created within the state’s long-term care facilities to help test out Rhode Island-based products, including health IT advances in telehealth? Beyond the marketing slogan of “Making it in RI,” does there need to be marketing support provided by the state for innovative products?
The mapping of health innovation – not just of the state’s health care delivery system, but of the biomedical industry product sector and research sector – remains an unmet need within the state’s future economic development planning efforts. More than just a mapping of new startup locations, there needs to be a mapping of the products, of research, of the firms and the entrepreneurs involved.

CRANSTON – Relief may now be in sight for many Rhode Island seniors who suffer from shingles.

As part of a new confidential product study, launched in partnership with the Cranston Senior Enrichment Center, Aspiera Medical will be providing a free jar of Terrasil Shingles Skincare Ointment, a $40 value, to participants who sign up for the study.

Anyone in the state of Rhode Island with a confirmed case of shingles can enroll. As part of the study, participants are asked to complete a brief questionnaire on a daily basis for four weeks.

The Cranston Senior Enrichment Medical Team will compile all information shared by study participants. The team will also be available to assist with questions and enrollment.

“As a Rhode Island company, we are thrilled to be partnering with Cranston Senior Services to make our shingles skincare ointment available to those suffering from this often painful skin ailment,” said David Goldsmith, co-founder and director of Aspiera Medical, a division of Aidance Scientific, headquartered in Woonsocket. About 40,000 individuals around the world have used and benefited from the ointment, according to Goldsmith.

The Rhode Island study is being conduct simultaneously with a product study with shingles patients in Baltimore, Md. The information will be used to help Aspiera Medical to establish additional statistically valid responses on the effects of the product from patient use.

Product rollout at Walgreens
The product study precedes the launch of Terrasil Shingles Skincare Ointment nationally on the shelves of Walgreens, Goldsmith told ConvergenceRI in a recent interview.

“The product is going into Walgreens across the country in a couple of months,” Goldsmith said. “I believe it’s scheduled for March.”

The success in expanding Aspiera Medical’s market reach from its current online sales to pharmacy shelves has been a yearlong goal. [See link to ConvergenceRI story below.]

A second rollout for another product is planned with another national pharmacy firm. “We’ve gotten the green light, but I can’t talk about it yet,” Goldsmith said. “It’s under wraps right now. It’s very, very exciting.”

As part of his firm’s expansion, Goldsmith is also ramping up in terms of creating new jobs.

“We’ve grown from 18 employees a year ago to 25 today,” he said. “We’ve got three or four open positions currently. We’re going through some growth, which was expected.”

Goldsmith credited the firm’s success to building a good, solid foundation since its founding 10 years ago, based upon its science, research and marketing strategy. The company invested in a new facility four years ago, and two years ago, received its first FDA clearance for products.

In the last year, Aspiera Medical has begun to reach out to hospitals, nursing homes and pharmacies across the country.

The incidence of shingles is increasing as the nation’s population ages, according to researchers. “If you live to be 85 years old, you have a 50 percent chance of getting shingles,” said Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, an infectious disease researcher at the National Institutes of Health.

A brighter, clearer future
For Goldsmith, the biggest barrier to Aspiera Medical’s growth is marketing.

“It’s just marketing,” he told ConvergenceRI. “It all comes down to marketing, getting the word out.”

To help in that effort, Goldsmith said his firm has contracted with a marketing strategy firm to do what he called “a deep dive” to provide guidance and analysis moving forward. “We want to spend money wisely, as wisely as one can, with few risks,” he said. “It’s a process of identifying what to do and what not to do.”

When you launch a product that’s national in a pharmacy chain, Goldsmith continued, how you support it is critical to success. In the case of the shingles ointment, he said, “It’s not just in-store marketing. It’s those relationships with geriatric physicians and the elderly population, which all [need to be] part of the plan.”

Connecting through MedMates
The collaboration to do a clinical study with Cranston Senior Services evolved from initial contacts between Goldsmith and Sue Stenhouse, executive director at the agency, through MedMates, a new medtech industry cluster organization begun in 2013, according to Goldsmith.

“I’ve known Sue Stenhouse since the beginning of MedMates,” Goldsmith. When we met to discuss the possibilities of getting the shingles study off the ground, he continued, “She embraced it immediately. And, I discovered the size and scope of the Cranston agency. It’s one of the oldest senior centers in the country, and it’s the largest, most established in the state. It has nurses on staff and pharmacists on staff.”

Goldsmith, one of the organizers behind MedMates, developed a new appreciation of the power and value of convergence. “It’s about being able to connect with people that might otherwise not know what the other is doing,” he said. “To discover common ground and collaboration.”

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