Self-taught moldmaker develops first-of-its-kind medical device

06/02/2014

Some people famously started a business in their garage—you've seen the commercial. For Jennifer Davagian Ensign, founder and CEO of Cristcot Inc. (Concord, MA), it all began in her kitchen, but her invention has nothing to do with cuisine. Au contraire. Using a Smooth-On silicone moldmaking kit, sundry parts from local hardware stores, and her oven, Ensign taught herself the fundamentals of molding and, this month, brought to market—trigger warning, this may cause some of you to wince—Sephure, a disposable suppository applicator. Her journey is a textbook example of developing a product for an unmet need that has the potential to achieve huge commercial success and improve peoples' lives. On the latter point, Ensign should know. She experienced it firsthand.

Ensign was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease more than 20 years ago. She was hospitalized about seven years ago and was prescribed rectal suppository medication. Taking the medication involved lying on the floor for 30 to 45 minutes twice a day, inserting the suppository while fighting the urge to expel it, and wearing protective undergarments to deal with the inevitable leakage. She did what most of us would do under the circumstances—she stopped the treatment—with predictable results, and landed in intensive care one year later. Leaving the hospital the second time, she vowed to take her medication as prescribed, but she also decided to find a better way to administer it. That's where the kitchen comes in.

A master seamstress by trade, "I have intuitive knowledge about how things are put together," Ensign told PlasticsToday. She set about designing a suppository applicator that would take the sting out of administering the medication and, in the process, improve patient compliance.
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