1nhaler – Pas­sion and patience

Con­sid­ering common inhalers too large, unwieldy and indis­creet, Don Smith went ahead and invented his own device: The 1nhaler. But it was a long road from the ini­tial idea to the ground­breaking con­cept. The inventor‘s cre­ativity, opti­mism and ability to inspire others kept him going.

In his capacity as a suc­cessful cre­ative director, Don Smith was solving the design and com­mu­ni­ca­tion prob­lems of numerous cus­tomers for years. In 2016, how­ever, this was no longer enough for him: He quit his job and became an inventor. The idea for his first inven­tion, the 1nhaler, occurred to him when his physi­cian offered him the oppor­tu­nity to test a new inhaler. Smith is asth­matic and has long been frus­trated by the size and bulk­i­ness of cur­rent devices.

“Having the idea is the eas­iest part of any inven­tion. Making it work is the hard part.” Don Smith

The new inhaler also dis­ap­pointed him. How­ever, he found one detail very promising: The inhaler was a dry powder inhaler. “This tech­nology inspired me to come up with the idea of packing a single powder dose into a com­pletely new kind of small, dis­creet inhaler,” says the inventor. “It would be capable of releasing the active ingre­dient in just one breath: a 1nhaler.”

Charis­matic generalist

Smith started to read spe­cialist lit­er­a­ture about phar­ma­cology, physics and powder pro­cessing. He vis­ited phar­ma­ceu­tical con­fer­ences and con­gresses and talked to experts. “I know a lot about a lot,” he says with a smile. “But I never pre­tended to be an expert for air­ways or inhala­tion. I pre­sented my idea saying that I would appre­ciate receiving sup­port in the inhaler’s devel­op­ment.” This hon­esty paid off. “The phar­ma­ceu­tical industry is full of pas­sionate people who want to keep others healthy,” he says. “Many were inspired by this idea and sup­ported me with their knowledge.”

Handy and sustainable

The core of the single-dose inhaler is a breath­able mem­brane to which a single dose of active ingre­dient powder is applied. The mem­brane is embedded between two busi­ness-card-sized pieces of card­board that can be formed into a three-­di­men­sional device when pres­sure is applied to the two outer edges. With a single breath, the ultra­fine powder pen­e­trates directly into the lungs. “Both the mem­brane and the sus­tain­able pack­aging are unique,” Don Smith proudly explains.

The experts from Harro Höfliger ­helped him with the tech­nical imple­men­ta­tion of his inven­tion. “During my research I met Alan Holmes, a long-standing sales employee of Harro Höfliger in Great Britain. He intro­duced me to the powder expert Marco Laack­mann and his team. Their com­pre­hen­sive expert knowl­edge – and even more impor­tant – their enthu­siasm has pushed the project and made the inhaler‘s devel­op­ment possible.”

Visionary out­look

In 2017, Don Smith founded 1nhaler Ltd in Edin­burgh, Scot­land and started devel­oping the product. He brought in Lisa McMyn, a long time friend and col­league, as his Com­mer­cial Director to sup­port him with her nat­ural prag­ma­tism and busi­ness acumen. “It is simple to have an idea,” he explains. “But it is a chal­lenge to make it work. Financing, estab­lishing part­ner­ships, run­ning a busi­ness – this is where Lisa is doing an amazing job.”

Co-Man­aging Director Lisa McMyn has been helping Don Smith com­mer­cialize his inven­tion since 2017.

By devel­oping the 1nhaler, Don Smith has ful­filled a per­sonal dream. “I admire all people who work on solving impor­tant issues of mankind. Cre­ative minds who care more about making things better than making a lot of money,” Don Smith says and adds: “If the 1nhaler can make breathing easier for people, my work has been worth the effort.”

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Photos: 1nhaler Ltd, Illus­tra­tion: Vectorjuice/Freepik