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With federal government purchase, Arbutus Medical surgical tools used to support Canadian medical NGOs building capacity in Haiti, Uganda, and Tanzania


With federal government purchase, Arbutus Medical surgical tools used to support Canadian medical NGOs building capacity in Haiti, Uganda, and Tanzania

November 19, 2019 – Through a competitive federal government program that matches Canadian innovators with government purchasers, Arbutus Medical was awarded a contract to supply its DrillCover surgical tools through Global Affairs Canada to be used by both Canadian surgeons and local doctors in hospitals in Haiti, Uganda and Tanzania.

“With this Build in Canada Innovation Program contract, we get to work alongside Canada’s top international surgery organizations,” says Lawrence Buchan, co-founder and CEO of Arbutus Medical.“This is a great success for Arbutus Medical and for our mission to break down barriers to safe surgery.” The Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP) was launched as part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to support Canadian innovators and promote Canada’s economic growth. Recently the BCIP has become Innovative Solutions Canada’s (ISC) new Testing Stream.

Through expert medical engineering and user-centred innovation, BC-based Arbutus Medical has designed and commercialized a portfolio of medical devices that can improve care for millions of patients worldwide. Their DrillCover Technology is a reusable liquid and pathogen-proof sterile enclosure that envelopes a non-sterile tool and fully seals the power transmission through the sterile barrier. It provides surgeons with an orthopedic drill at a significantly lower price than traditional medical power tools, providing a safe and sterile power tool alternative that is also lightweight and packable.

Under the program, innovators like Arbutus Medical are matched with a federal government department to participate in the testing of an innovation. Arbutus Medical’s DrillCover PRO System and SawCover System are registered as Class II medical devices with Health Canada, and are suitable for any orthopedic procedure requiring drilling, driving, sawing, or reaming. Global Affairs Canada signed on as the lead federal test Department by engaging three Canadian NGOs to act as third-party test organizations of the tools in a humanitarian setting.

As part of this program, a senior engineer from Arbutus Medical traveled with Team Broken Earth to Haiti earlier this fall to introduce the tools at Hospital Bernard Mevs in Port-au-Prince. The Newfoundland-based task force from Team Broken Earth was made up of volunteer physicians, nurses, and physiotherapists who spent a week at the hospital delivering care and performing surgeries using the DrillCover PRO and SawCover systems. Team Broken Earth has a longstanding relationship with the hospital which began after the 2010 earthquake damaged health infrastructure in Haiti.

“In Haiti, my task was to implement the new tools at the hospital but overall I wanted to support the staff of Bernard Mevs hospital by helping out wherever my engineering skills could be useful,” says Michael Cancilla, Director of Engineering and co-founder of Arbutus Medical. “Our surgical team ended up completing 3-4 surgeries per day. I trained the surgeons and nurses on our tools, and repaired malfunctioning equipment at the hospital alongside the Haitian technicians. Team Broken Earth and Bernard Mevs really liked our tools because they reliably know that they’d have a working power tool that can be sterilized quickly, so they use them in back-to-back cases.”

Under Innovative Solutions Canada, Arbutus Medical engineers will be traveling with Canadian Network for International Surgery to Tanzania later this fall, and with Uganda Sustainable Trauma Orthopaedic Program to Uganda in the spring.

“This is a big contract for us, and we had to clear a pretty high bar to get accepted into this competitive program,” adds Buchan. “But the best part about this is that we’re able to demonstrate our value proposition in a really compelling way to the surgeons and hospital staff using our products and we get to work with some of the best global surgery teams based in Canada.”

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About Arbutus Medical
Arbutus Medical makes surgical tools to break down barriers to safe surgery and supports surgeons or GPs learning new surgical techniques. Using patented DrillCover technology, Arbutus Medical provides safe, reliable, high-quality and affordable surgical tools. Their power tool systems have been used to treat over 48,000 human patients and 32,000 animal patients in 32 countries. The tools feature a reusable liquid and pathogen-proof fabric cover that fully envelopes a robust, powerful and affordable hardware tool creating the perfect orthopaedic solution for the cost-conscious surgeon or veterinarian.

Carla Shore
C-Shore Communications
+1 604-329-0975