A pacifier that delivers medicine

Have you ever tried to administer medicine to a baby? To help parents with this daunting job, a doctor in St. Louis, Missouri, has adapted the pacifier to invent a simple, medical device for babies. She also launched her innovative product and company through St. Louis’ growing startup community.


Have you ever tried to administer medicine to a baby?

To help parents with this daunting job, a doctor in St. Louis, Missouri, has adapted the pacifier to invent a simple medical device for babies.

She also launched her innovative product and company through St. Louis' growing start-up community.

Here's the story.

These are the cases of them.

So each of these has eight units.

This is the packaging for Pacidose, a baby medical device that pairs a pacifier with a standard oral syringe to ease one of parenthood's most unpleasant tasks.

Giving medicine to a sick child can be difficult.

And many children are given incorrect amounts.

It was developed by Dr. Agnes Scoville, a St. Louis emergency room doc.

When babies come in and they have respiratory problems, frequently, we'll give them Prelone, which just doesn't taste good.

It's a steroid.

And they notoriously spit it out.

That discomfort hit home when she had her own daughter.

It was just one of those things where I was, like, 'This has got to be easier.'

So I took a pacifier off the shelf.

I drilled a hole in the back.

I inserted an angiocath, which is what you use, you know, to put an IV in somebody's arm, superglued it together, and tried it on her.

And it worked great.

Dr. Scoville and her family were living in Los Angeles at the time.

But soon after, her husband accepted a job in St. Louis.

I thought, 'Okay, this is a great opportunity to try to get this business up and rolling.'

So I cut back to part time in the ER and started working on this company, Scoville & Company, and, you know, with the idea of, 'Okay, I have these baby products, these ideas that would just allow moms and dads to give better care at home.'

The Scovilles knew that St. Louis' lower cost of living would be a plus.

But they had no idea that the other key to their success would be the resources of the city's growing start-up community.

In 2015, about a year after their move, they won an Arch Grant, $50,000 in non-equity funding.

We're looking for companies that really see an opportunity to fundamentally shift how something is done so that it's better, it's more efficient, that -- that they dominate.

Pacidose was certainly on its way to doing that.

Soon after they moved to St. Louis, the Scovilles finalized their design and manufactured a small batch of 500 devices to test the market.

Within months, they sold out on Amazon.

But when Arch Grants tapped them, it pushed things to the next level.

We got a lot of press.

And then people started finding out about the product.

And then, you know, Schnucks and Dierbergs started carrying the product.

And, you know, it just sort of generates this online buzz, too.

So when another company like Babies'R'Us investigates us, it's like, 'Oh, there are so many articles about her.

Oh, look at all this,' this, you know, online buzz that really lends credibility to the whole company and to the product.

It also opened the door to more funding through the Accelerate St. Louis Challenge and the Metro East Start-Up Challenge at SIUE.

In March, the company placed third in the nation in the SBA's highly competitive innovateHER competition, which included a prize of $10,000.

And remember that Babies'R'Us connection?

Hi. Welcome, everyone.

That happened in St. Louis, as well, during an Accelerate St. Louis C.E.O.-to-C.E.O. event that paired Dr. Scoville with former Energizer C.E.O. Ward Klein.

He was absolutely fantastic and was able to introduce me to some other people who said, 'Hey, you know, we knew this person at Babies'R'Us.

How would you like to chat with them about your product?'

Since Arch Grants was founded to bring new businesses to St. Louis' urban core, recipients are required to set up shop somewhere downtown for at least a year.

Pacidose chose the T-REx building on Washington, a business incubator and co-working space that's also home to Arch Grants.

Everybody in here, for the most part, is working in business.

And they have access to conference rooms, film booths, TVs, like, all kinds of things that they would need to do presentations.

You're around all sort of other entrepreneurs that are doing the same kinds of things you're trying to do.

So the money's great.

Don't get me wrong.

But it's sort of the collateral benefit of being in a working space like this that's great.

Over the last year, those forces have combined to put Pacidose on the map.

It's now available in more than 200 stores nationwide and online through Amazon.

And more deals are in the works.

Hi, Bonnie.

This is Katie with Pacidose.

How are you?

We want Pacidose to be on every single baby registry for every new mom.

Ultimately, we'd also like to have this in hospitals.

But we'd need to change the manufacturing slightly so it's cheaper to make.

The opportunity that she has to do business here and research and raise funds in a hospital town, in a highly regarded medical community, that's a win.

What you have here is a really, really clunky prototype.

In the meantime, Dr. Scoville is working on new products that she hopes will have the same impact as Pacidose.

I got some really, you know, heart-wrenching stories of, you know, a pediatrician whose child has congenital heart disease who needs to take really big, you know, kind of important medications every day.

And she contacted me and said, you know, 'This product has literally saved my daughter's life because she wouldn't take the medicine.'

It was really, like, 'Wow, I'm actually helping people,' which was, you know, a really good feeling.