Brightly colored bee takes sting out of injections

The idea dawned on an Atlanta physician after her car acted up and her son developed a fear of needles.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted May 30, 2011

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Making sidelines pay

Business Pitch

Doctors who branched out beyond running their practice tell why they did it, how they did it, and what you should know before you do it.
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Name: Amy Baxter, MD

Specialty: Pediatric emergency medicine

Location: Atlanta

Company: MMJ Labs sells Buzzy, a reusable vibrating ice pack designed to reduce injection pain. The children's version is painted as a brightly colored bee. A plain black version is marketed for adolescents and adults. The product, which retails for $34.95, is available from the company's website (link).

Annual revenue: $200,000

Why she started the business: Dr. Baxter, who has researched pain for 20 years, attempted to reduce the discomfort her children experienced during vaccinations by using topical analgesics. Health professionals administering the shots wouldn't always cooperate with her efforts. One of her children had such a bad experience that he developed a severe fear of needles.

Dr. Baxter decided that there had to be a better way for parents to have more control over their children's injection pain. She landed a grant from the National Institutes of Health to investigate the issue.

Initially, her research focused on ways to numb the skin by using cold. One day, while driving, one of the car's wheels went out of alignment causing the vehicle to vibrate. When she got home, her hands were numb, so she decided to combine cold and vibration.

From that work sprang the Buzzy. She networked with entrepreneurs in Atlanta to find manufacturing and other partners to get the device made.

Pediatric hospitals, as well as allergists and dermatologists, are her main customers because they administer so many injections to children. Some parents purchase the product, particularly those who have children with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, that require many injections.

"We have not started truly marketing it yet. It's all been word of mouth, and the occasional medical trade show," Dr. Baxter said.

Why she continues to practice: "I like practicing medicine better than anything else. I also feel that there are so few pediatric emergency-trained physicians that to not use my skills when they are in particularly short supply does not feel very civically responsible."

Words of wisdom: "If you have got a good idea, make sure it is done right. Commit to it, and stick to it."

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